Singer William Topley serves up an amalgam of blue eyed soul and British Blues/Rock with pop leanings on his fourth solo release, "Feasting With Panthers." Recorded in the Caribbean with a large ensemble including horn section and backup vocalists, "Feasting…" is more of a daiquiri than a boilermaker. While this might not earn it points with blues purists there are still enough positives in evidence here to recommend this release to those with a wide pallet of tastes.
"Back to Believing," kicks things off with Mark Taylor's swirling B3 sound encircling Simeon Jones' wailing harp on the intro. The song then shifts into
a mid tempo groove, showcasing Topley's muscular vocals, which resemble British folk legend Richard Thompson, only stronger. The tempo slows as wailing guitars mimicking an ailing heart highlight "Magnolia," a southern rock flavored paean to unrequited love.
Guitarist Luke Brighty adds concise fills and solos throughout as well as co-writing four tracks. He shines brightest on "Drake's Drum" with standout slide, rhythm and lead work. The Urban Breeze Horns kick in at song's end to add some of their strongest
work and help bring the CD's most satisfying track to a raucous conclusion.
The biggest departure musically is the reggae flavor of "Excuses," which also turns out to be the disc's most welcome surprise. Once again, Taylor's organ work and the horns, especially Trevor Edwards' trombone, step forward to create sinuous rhythms while Larraine Mcintosh and Rachel Brown contribute sensuous backing vocals.
William Topley is a powerful, emotionally charged vocalist credited with co-writing all twelve tracks on "Feasting with Panthers." While the material may be all over the map stylistically, it shows a strong affinity towards and aptitude for American and rhythm and Blues based music. This material might not be real honest to goodness Blues, but it is good, honest music.
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