Get the Right Now

by delarue

The Right Now looks back to the late 60s and early 70s, when soul music was taking on all kinds of different dimensions. But on their latest album The Right Now Gets Over You, the oldschool Chicago soul band takes that idea to the next level. Like Damian Quinones (just reviewed here), no verse or chorus is exactly the same, and guitarist Brendan O’Connell’s songs don’t follow a simple verse/chorus progression. They’re little soul symphonies. So if the band happens to interrupt a period-perfect mid-70s soul/funk ballad with a break for a darkly reverberating 60s strut, they’re not being anachronistic: this is how they do it. There are a lot of great retro soul acts out there – New Jersey’s One and Nines bearing the closest resemblance to this band – but there’s none quite like the Right Now. Frontwoman Stefanie Berecz gets a lot of props for her powerful pipes and command of 60s idioms, but the band behind her is every bit as good. Fitz & the Tantrums, eat your little British hearts out.

There are so many neat touches on this album that it’s impossible to catch them all. On the wickedly catchy, pulsing first track, I Can’t Speak for You – available as a free download, as is their 2010 ep Carry Me Home– it’s Greg Nergaard’s fuzz bass kicking off the second verse. Berecz evokes a Tammi Terrell sweetness that rises to a longing, or a righteous anger, on several of the songs: Good Man, with its Muscle Shoals guitar and the horns punching in at the end of Berecz’ phrases, is a prime example. Can’t Keep Running blends rap-era snideness with a lush, balmy early 70s ballad vibe: “I saw you in the clothes you wore since last week – watching me through the night won’t bring me back,” Berecz tells her scrubby stalker. Likewise, Tell Everyone the Truth nicks the chords from You Keep Me Hanging On and turns it into a mini-epic with lo-key funeral organ, a cool horn arrangement, a funky bass interlude and a big anthemic windout at the end.

Should’ve Told Me is an artsier, Chicago-themed take on early 70s Three Degrees-style soul-funk, the warm but wary attractiveness of the melody perfectly matching the lyrics. They take I Could Kiss You (I Could Cry) from a tense, distantly gospel-tinged vamp to a big, steady backbeat and a long, soaring, full-voiced crescendo before bringing it down again. He Used to Be is packed with cool touches: dark organ, wah guitar, a verse where the organ goes completedly distorted until the horns blast it back to the band. It has the feel of a Dina Rudeen song.

The best song on the album is Half As Much, another free download: with its surfy reverb guitar and ominously bluesy melody, it’s like a noir Lee Hazelwood take on 60s soul. And Higher takes a classic mid-60s melody and sets it to a funky, disco-flavored 70s shuffle with lots of seductive horn swells. The album’s production has a richly analog feel,¬†graceful flourishes from the instruments peeking out from every corner of the sonic picture, bass and drums plenty high in the mix but leaving plenty of room for the other instruments. The Right Now’s next show is October 6 at 8 PM at Off Broadway in St. Louis.