They don’t look like a soul band. Not many soul band come out of Austin, Texas. Very few soul bands have a member who was trained at The Berklee College Of Music. But so it is with the Nightowls who were formed in 2011 by lead singer Ryan Harkrider. They have now released their debut album Good As Gold.
They are a sprawling nine piece aggregation that features three vocalists, Harkrider, Tara Williamson, and Ellie Carroll, trumpet player Justin Smith, saxophonist Jonathan McNutt, guitarist Amos Traystman, bassist Rob Alton, drummer Ben Petree, and keyboardist Oscar Interiano.
They are a soul band rooted in the Motown sound but able to move in new directions. The voices can soar and the instruments lay down some funky grooves. They provide a nice ride through many of the styles that make up American soul music.
“Break My Heart Tonight” is an infectious dance track. “You Don’t Have To Worry (I’ll Be There)” is a harmonic salute to Michael Jackson with a blast of horns thrown in for good measure. “I Don’t Mess With That” has a sax solo to die for. The passionate ballad “I’m Sorry Baby” would be right at home in the 1960s Motown songbook.
The Nightowls have released an album of smooth and sophisticated soul music. It is music for the mind, heart, and feet. A wonderful debut from a band that deserves some commercial attention and success.