"Icons of Soul Vol.1"
Several years ago when Canadian guitarist, singer and songwriter, Luke McMaster, teamed with young talent by the name of Eva Evila for a spirited rendition of the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell classic, ‘Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing’, we should have guessed this was just the burgeoning of something bigger to come. Flip forward to 2019, and McMaster returns with a full-on tribute to the Classic Motown and soul legacy with Icons Of Soul Volume 1. And as that adage goes, ‘go big, or go home’, McMaster has gone big…real big..on this latest project.
Demonstrating how personal this album is, McMaster enlisted the collaborative talents of several icons, including Lamont Dozier, who along with Brian and Eddie Holland, comprised one of the greatest songwriting machines in the Motor City, writing some of the biggest hits ever to come out of Berry Gordy Jr’s Motown shrine known as Hitsville USA on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit. McMaster, Dozier, Arun Chaturvedi and Canadian musician and award-winning songwriter, Christopher Ward, put their collective writing brilliance together for the album’s signature song, "My Life Is A Song". With the trademark and unmistakable punchy ‘Motown’ beat heard on so many classics, the infectious tune paints a vivid image of the global influence and impact the genre holds, with the shout out lyrics ‘Straight from Motor City to your radio’ and borrowing the title of "You Keep Me Hanging On" for a line. The incomparable soul legend, Felix Cavaliere, ex of The (Young) Rascals, guests on the Hammond B3 organ on the Cavaliere-McMaster-Chaturvedi written "Soul Love", a mid-tempo ballad steeped in a neo-soul groove. Another original, "Until We Try", features the late genius, George Duke, and after the sound of a needle dropping on scratchy vinyl, a drum beat reminiscent of Jr Walker’s "Shotgun" flows into a superb soul flow of horn arrangement, guitars and McMaster’s blue-eyed soul vocals.
McMaster’s acoustic rendition of The Rascals' "Groovin’" reminds us of the transcendent greatness of the 1967 classic, where any day is Sunday afternoon and the sweet chirp of birds is prevalent. McMaster pays an ultimate tribute to the prolific songwriter legacy of Holland-Dozier-Holland with his serene piano-led "Supremes Medley" of 4 of the Motor City’s greatest hits, "Where Did Our Love Go", "Stop In The Name Of Love", "Come See About Me", and "Baby Love".
It’s been 60 years since a young man named Berry took an $800 loan and a dream and turned them into what has become one of the world's most recognized, respected and iconic sounds that have influenced generations of soul musicians and songwriters within and outside of the city of Detroit. McMaster says “Icons of Soul ‘is the fulfilment of a dream to honour the music that has so inspired me and millions of people all over the world. This collection of covers and originals is an homage to the songs of that incredible era of Soul Music and Motown, and the men and women who wrote them”.
History of any type can never be changed, only revisited. And with Luke McMaster and several key links to the golden era of Motown and soul like Lamont Dozier and Felix Cavaliere assisting, the road back to the Motor City and all other RnB epicentres will forever be a trip none of us will ever be tired of traversing.