Material: With a sound that seems to ignore everything that is cynical and over-polished about contemporary R&B, Andrew Pettit prefers to dip back into the glory days of Motown and Stax, as well as a little ‘80s pop & soul. As a result, there’s an authenticity to Pettit’s music sadly missing in a lot of modern soul. His faith, his family and, naturally, romantic love all play a big part in the subject matter and, again, it’s tough not to believe every word that the man says and sings. What we have here is a soul singer who truly has soul, and who will gladly rip it out and put it on display when he performs.
Musicianship: While Pettit’s name is on the ticket, while he has a stunningly rich voice and while the focus is on him, he has assembled a band that any of the soul greats should and likely would be proud to have behind them. Duke Anderson and Alonzo Freeman make for a magnificent rhythm section who know not to overplay but do absolutely everything right and, when called upon, can add a little magic. Guitarist Jimmy Heberling is a potential guitar hero in the making and, during an instrumental Prince medley at the start of the evening, he practically makes his instrument sing. Any one of the three backup singers is capable of performing solo, and Nathan Hemmens is a naturally gifted keys-man.
Performance: The E Spot Lounge can hold upwards of 150 people, and for Pettit it was sold out. And while there’s a touch of “cruise ship” about the room, with people eating dishes like capellini alla checca, dressed to impress, while Pettit performs in front of them, it works quite nicely. Pettit isn’t one to leap around, but he moves where the music takes him, and that aforementioned authenticity trumps elaborate showmanship. Tears are shed by Pettit just before gospel song “Jesus is Love,” and they’re genuine too, with the singer telling us (with difficulty) that the song reminds him of his recently deceased grandmother. Meanwhile, his version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” takes an already emotional song and dials up the passion.
Summary: Above all, Andrew Pettit's performance is natural and flowing. If there’s any criticism at all, it’s that Pettit could stand to hold back with the vocal gymnastics a touch. When he allows his voice to soar and doesn’t feel the need to fit 20 notes into a space perfectly suited to two, he sounds amazing. But this is a singer who feels comfortable with himself and he’s clearly learning his craft.
The Players: Andrew Pettit, vocals; Duke Anderson, drums; Alonzo Freeman, bass; Jimmy Heberling, guitar; Nathan Hemmens, keys; Candace Coles, backup vocals; Tia Simone, backup vocals; Ronnie Ohannon, backup vocals.
Photo by Brett Callwood
Venue: E Spot Lounge @ Vitello’s Restaurant
City: Studio City, CA
Contact: CLM Management, bandbiz@ sbcglobal.net
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