Abby Bryant & The Echoes Bring Southern Soul With Jeff Sipe & John Ginty On ‘Not Your Little Girl’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Not Your Little Girl is the debut album from Abby Bryant & the Echoes, making their way at a difficult time when remnants of the pandemic are still with us, curtailing their touring plans and opportunities to hone their sound. But their time is now, operating from their new home base of Asheville, NC, musical partners, vocalist Bryant and guitarist Bailey Faulkner, wasted no time in recruiting a band with distinguished resumes. The Echoes are keyboardist John Ginty (Chicks, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Allman-Betts Band), drummer Jeff Sipe (Col. Bruce Hampton, Leftover Salmon, Susan Tedeschi), and the Naughty Horns (Nick Ellman, John Culbreth, Ian Bowman).

Native North Carolinians, Bryant, and Faulkner have been buddies and playing music together since they were kids. Having graduated from Appalachian State, the two friends and now dedicated bandmates moved to Charlotte, NC and decided to fully implement their ideas for the new project, but finding that road too bumpy, the two soon relocated to the musical hotspot of Asheville, NC, and committed themselves to extensive touring that quickly built an organic fan base in their native Southeast. Title track “Not Your Little Girl” announces Bryant’s resolve and confidence in her own intuition when to many tried to convince her she was swimming against the tide. She puts it real out there with her immense pipes, made for the kind of southern soul she imparts with the song’s chorus, “It took so long for me to say / That I’m not your little girl / I gotta find my very own way / To live in this big old world.” 

Bryant is at her wailing best in the single, the breakup song “Tried.” The band kicks up with the infectious “Better Now,” with Ginty’s organ and Faulkner’s guitar providing the fiery licks. “When I’m Gone” brings in the punchy horns. The first four-pack tons of energy and a convicted, animated vocal display from Bryant, a sound they mostly carry through the album, which begins to wear due to the sameness of sound in a few spots, but the band stays locked in, delivering both supportive and punctuating licks. The simmering Both “Hold Me” and “Roll With Me” take the tempo down slightly into a soulful sweet spot underpinned by Ginty’s Memphis-sounding organ, that’s strong enough to evoke Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis.

“Where Do I Go” is another of the organ-fueled breezy soul tunes that connects. Bryant finding her new identity is the relentless theme of these songs, one she communicates directly with lyrics such as “And if you feel like you’re dying / I got just what you need … / You just gotta follow your own lead” in the pulsating “Keep Moving.” Bryant and band return to the soulful ballad tempo which, seems to be the better match for her vocals in “Time Wasn’t On Our Side.”  This is not to say she doesn’t wail with the best of them on the rockers, but the way she builds this tune into its swelling choruses is even more impressive.  Case in point, the rocker “I’m Telling You” is a misstep that she quickly compensates for in the engaging closer “There’s No Way.” 

There’s no denying Bryant’s fierce spirit and she does herself proud with these formidable bandmates, for an auspicious debut. 

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