Gary, Indiana, may not be as synonymous with soul as Memphis. However, it is the home of The Jackson 5, and the birthplace of soul artist Quinn Deveaux. Deveaux (like so many other musicians) now calls Nashville home after becoming known in San Francisco for his energetic live shows. No matter where he lives, it’s clear on his new (fittingly named) album Book of Soul that Deveaux has spent a lot of time with classic soul records and is doing what he can to put his stamp on with the sound that he calls blue beat.
It becomes evident pretty quickly that he is comfortable with a variety of tempos in his songs. With its rhythm and 60s garage soul feel, “All I Need” seems like one of those songs that would fill a dance floor during one of his shows. An even better example of a song that will get people dancing is “Good Times Roll”. With the piano and the horns, this one has a New Orleans sound to it and it’s pretty easy to imagine this one either in a jazz club or accompanying a parade down Bourbon Street. On the flip side is “Home at Last,” a slow and soulful song that may sound a bit familiar. Specifically, parts of the melody have some similarity to “I Only Have Eyes for You” by The Flamingos.
You can see why he calls his sound blue beat when you hear some of the songs toward the end album. “Stay the Night” is fueled by the blues piano but, that being said, the guitar also stands alongside some of the best in Chicago blues. “Take Me Home” is also fueled by the piano part that is in the vein of Huey “Piano” Smith. Mind you, the beat in this song is great too and is sure to get your feet tapping.
While he fits in well with contemporaries like Leon Bridges who have championed a revival of retro soul sounds and made them appealing to younger generations, you can’t help but notice the vocal similarity to elder statesmen like Solomon Burke. His tone is made for singing soul, and his delivery is smooth as butter. In fact, it’s hard to imagine him being anything other than a soul singer. For instance, if he had become a plumber, we wouldn’t have the privilege of hearing his smooth voice.