Archives- Reviews: Fresh Heir
It’s that natural kinda toke…its 5-piece St. Louis based combo Fresh Heir, and their rhythmic groove is positive and smooth. It’s a soulful mix of R&B and Pop, delivered with heart, passion and the brawn of a horn section consisting of Tim Siskey- Sax and Desi Reichold- Trumpet. The selections are very original, and instantly accessible. If only American Idol would feature a Steely Dan episode, then maybe talented artists like the members of Fresh Heir would get the mainstream recognition they deserve. Of course that’s just being cynical, and there’s no place for that in the music industry, is there?
Fresh Heir’s music is a fusion in the “freshest” sense of the word. It presents itself to the listener as both original arrangements, yet familiar and radio-ready at the same time. It all stems from the visionary core of the group as personified by drummer/producer/songwriter /lead singer Nick Savage. Along with Ryan Marquez on Basskeys, the line-up makes the best out of multi-tasking talent. In a true amalgam of Soul-Jazz, the horns—along with fleet-fingered guitarist Benny Luv—build their accompaniment around the bassline, flowing along with a layered rhythm which allows for Savage to switch between beats from structured to improvised.
The songs and arrangements can range between danceable Bop and Rock, to Romantic Ballad, sometimes even within the same song, as demonstrated in their title track to their debut disk “Sky’s the Limit”. The track begins with a soulful beat amplified by electronic clapping that flows right into a quicker staccato rhythm. Then each chorus returns again on a lovely, smooth, modulation of synthesizer chords. Al Green and The Spinners were among the best and most popular smooth Soul artists, and you can hear the romantic yet funk influences of those artists in the best of Fresh Heir’s sets.
Where there is slight room for improvement is in the let down discovered when a snippet of tasty mix only ends up re-charting over and over without much exciting melodic change. A quality track like “A New Day” bounces along and fans the flames, no doubt. As you listen to the lead/backup vox support each other, trading off their lines, there’s no arguing that, yes, “It’s gonna be a brighter day”—just not a more melodic one. It’s almost as if the band is relying on some killer filler and self-laudatory rapping to keep one—and only one—soulful hook afloat. And then, that particular hook just doesn’t sustain the song for the whole 3-4 minute duration of the track. Oh well, that may be nit-picking. It’s obvious that this band brings it, and they could fire up a Krishna mantra and keep a packed audience dancing.
Limitless is the sky, but success in the music business screams limits. They’re known as demographics. Fresh Heir has talent in abundance. There’s a sound that’s both familiar yet original, and a group of musicians who know how to play well. The instruments blend flawlessly, even the tear-ass guitar leads, and Nick Savage’s vox keep relocating from old address to new address effortlessly, all the while never missing a beat. It makes for fun, marvelous music. But with such a big sky, perhaps a more melodic trajectory is called for.