Sky Hi – “Testify” CD
One of the key features that make this music so special is what has been described as “an audible sweat” embedded in the recordings. Recorded exclusively in Nick DeVan’s Poor Man Studio, the musicians huddle together in a small heavily insulated social room and grind out hard-boiled track after track. All the musicians are working class folks eking out a liv
The new album from Nashville modern funk collective, Sky Hi, is a testament to the group’s longevity. Nearing their tenth year, the band has weathered every manner of line up changes and reinvented themselves more than a few times. But the current line up, as it stands, brings something very special to the table. A slew of different styles and influences converge to create something palpable and unique. It has the grit and the raw essence of old school hard soul but also liberal splashes of modernity.
After nearly two years in production, Sky Hi feels they’ve let “Testify” marinate long enough. From the frenetic energy of the album’s title track to the rolling soul of “Walk Through That Door”, Sky Hi has earned their spot in the pantheon
of the Southern Soul tradition. And yet it’s songs like “Do Not Want” with it’s quasi-reggae lean or “Fell Short” , which feels like it could fit in at any modern RnB station, that show Sky Hi isn’t afraid to step away from their idea of soul music and experiment with other genres. The band makes great use of an ever expanding palette of musical textures and songwriting dexterity. A four piece horn section roars over fluttering organ melodies while prodigious guitar licks nip around a rock steady rhythm section. And all of this is anchored by DeRobert “Dee” Adams powerful vocals,thereby making this band an unequivocal monster in the rhythm and blues department. For proof of this, listen to “Love Is Real”: a soulful power ballad of sorts that will floor you with it climactic crescendo.
To say Sky Hi has come full circle is an understatement. From their heady early years as a pseudo funk/jam band, to their foray into straight up soul and RnB, Sky Hi has reached the moment where their musical message has grown to
the point that they must testify to it’s expansiveness. By far, “Testify” is their strongest offering to date, but we don’t think they are anywhere near a stopping point. The musical machine that is Sky Hi will continue turning, and with each passing revolution, it’s get stronger and more interes
ing with side jobs and long stints on the road. The recurring themes of poverty, heartbreak and the perpetual struggle to stay on top is reflected in the music.
The new record, “I’m Tryin'” (available Jan 14, 2014) is a testament to a kind of working man’s soul music. Holding true to the rhythmic elements of the old days while liberal splashes of DeRoberts modern vocal punctuate the melody like a possessed pugilist sets the group apart from other soul revival acts.
“I’m Tryin'” is the result of two years of hard traveling and sweat drench recording sessions in the “not-so-trendy” working class section of East Nashville. The band and label, both operating on a shoe string budget led a successful crowd funding campaign to finance this record as well as two more down the road. The result is by far one of the finest recordings produced by DeRobert and G.E.D. Soul Records.