Kay Kay and the Rays have been together since 1999, and exist in five-piece and eight-piece versions--the latter includes the three piece Ray horns. On "Texas Justice" they are also assisted by Andrew "Jr Boy" Jones on a couple of tracks, and more extensively by Johnny Rawls who also co-produced with bass player Bob Trenchard.
The album opens with the thought-provoking "Lone Star Justice" which looks at the meaning of "justice" in Texas. The fine wailing sax comes courtesy of Andy Roman, and the song offers the first insight into Kay Kay's big voice. The horns then get swinging on "Hey Big Boy" which also features the first of Jr Boy Jones' contributions.
Kay Kay's Gospel background shines through most strongly on the slower numbers, such as "Don't Have To Tell Me." In places her voice sounds a bit like the excellent Sista Monica, which is no bad thing. Like all of the other tracks here, "Don't Have To Tell Me" is a band original.
The amusingly titled "Lord, Save Me From LA" has a lively horn intro. It chugs along nicely during the verses, before the horns get to swing out in the chorus. Things are then slowed down for the fine soulful vocal duet (Rawls/Kay Kay) of "Hold On To What You've Got." Pick of the tracks, though, is "Double Standard" which features Jr Boy Jones on guitar. The overall sound is subtly constructed, with the horns, in particular, being nicely understated. The song explores a failed relationship in which the man thought infidelity was acceptable until his partner tried it.
The album closes out with the title track which deals with the same theme as the opening track. It is not the same song, however: the opener was written by Kay Kay and Trenchard, whilst the closer is by Rawls and Trenchard. The message is that justice *is* available, as long as you can afford it.
"Texas Justice" is a very good album, and the fact that Johnny Rawls is involved means--in this reviewer's book, at least--that the quality of the contents is assured. Kay Kay is a fine singer, and when the band hook up with the horns, things really start to cook. They sound like they must be a great live act, but until they come to your town "Texas Justice" will do nicely to keep your expectations bubbling along.
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