Fans of Pokey LaFarge, the California Honeydrops, the Dustbowl Revival, and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats will delight in the debut album by The Love Light Orchestra, a group of the best Memphis has to offer. The self-titled debut album was recorded live in concert to a full house at Bar DKDC in their hometown by Matt Ross-Spang, who produced Margo Price’s breakout album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter and whose other credits include Jason Isbell, Brent Cobb, The Drive-By Truckers, and Corb Lund. It comes out November 17 on Blue Barrel Records. Together these musicians seek to distill the sounds of the ‘40s and ‘50s rhythm & blues and blues. Additionally, The Love Light Orchestra draws from the horn-driven Memphis blues sound of B.B. King, Little Milton, and “Junior” Parker. The band brilliantly recasts Al Green’s iconic hit “Love and Happiness” as a shuffle, with parts inspired by Charles Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus.”
Today Glide is excited to premiere one of the album’s standout tracks, “Poverty”. Despite its name and lyrics that aren’t exactly uplifting, the classic Bobby “Blue” Bland song is a swinging soul tune with bluesy guitar. Singer John Nemeth’s buttery vocals fit perfectly with the loose orchestration of this talented Memphis soul ensemble, bringing to mind legendary artists like Fats Domino and, of course, Bobby “Blue” Bland, which makes sense considering the latter is the Orchestra’s chief inspiration. In fact, the connection to Bland is personal considering the band’s arranger, co-founder, and trumpet man Marc Franklin previously toured with the smooth-voiced blues singer. They even named themselves after Bland’s 1961 hit “Turn On Your Love Light,” and saxophonist Art Edmaiston and drummer Earl Lowe also did stints touring with Bland.
Singer John Nemeth reflects on the choice to sing this tune:
“This song is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Our country still has a long way to go! This year Memphis has reclaimed its spot as the most impoverished city in the country. I am happy the public schools offer breakfast and lunch to our students because a majority of these kids would go hungry. As a small business owner I feel fortunate that my family makes it from month to month but I am always uncertain and stressed out about our future. Thank you Blue Barrel Records for recording the Love Light Orchestra.”
The Love Light Orchestra is out November 17 on Blue Barrel Records.