CD REVIEW: Drew Schultz - Back to Class
By: Cyrus Rhodes
"amazing collection of music"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST-
Artist: Drew Schultz
CD: Back to Class
Label: Independent Artist
Purchase Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/back-to-class/id554638123
Genre: Soul, Funkadelic Pop, Mo-Town, R&B
Sounds Like: Luther Vandros, Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Calvin Richardson, The Four Tops, Robbie Neville Band.
Technical Grade: 10/10
Back to Class is the debut record of soul drummer Drew Schultz and his band Funk Machine. Bio: Schultz entered the scene at the age of 19, cutting his teeth over a course of five years with legendary Motown group The Four Tops. Touring the world as percussionist, drummer, archivist, and substitute conductor for the group, Drew got the chance to perform with many legendary artists including The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, The Dramatics, The Miracles, The Contours, Harold Melvin's Bluenotes, just to name a few. This latest project features artists from The Four Tops, James Jamerson Jr, Dennis Coffey, Members of The Funk Brothers, Ken Knox of Chairmen of the Board, Melvin Davis, Spyder Turner, McKinley Jackson, Pat Lewis, Rob Carter of Nature's Divine, Turhan (Earl Van Dyke Jr), Joey Kingfish, and Lenny Pickett of Tower of Power / Saturday Night Live. The record also features up and coming young singers Chris Ams, Elise McCoy, Anna "Cartia" Carter, and Kyle Allen. I might add the proceeds from this record benefits the music programs of the Detroit Public Schools.
The CD kicks things off “Simple Words” (feat. Spyder Turner) is a smooth moving soulful ditty that serves up steady groove against catchy vocal melodies, against a hooky chorus. Track 3 keeps things moving in the right direction with “Told You So” (feat. Melvin Davis) an upbeat melody full of a catchy horn section, clever lyrical content and mesmerizing vocal line from Davis. Track 4 “Not Enough” (Feat Chris Ams) is my personal favorite serving up yet another smooth flowing piece that peaks and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. The CD makes a great first impression and doesn't let up. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Luther Vandros, Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Calvin Richardson, The Four Tops, and perhaps a splash of Robbie Neville Band. Right from the start you will notice rich musical textures overflowing everywhere, full of warmth, variety and strong melodic structure. I would classify this music as modern Pop-R&B, with classic elements of funkadelic flair reminiscent of classic Mo-Town. The songs themselves are addictive and passionate pieces complete with positive subject matter. The musicianship of the Schultz and his Funk Machine is world class. All the players in Schultz's band write and play there parts extremely well song for song. Besides the 4 piece standard you will also notice lush layers of instrumentation layered along the way. From well-placed horn section, saxophone, slamming guitar solos, piano, keyboard and percussive accents, solid R&B/jazz guitar, meshed with lush vocal harmonies and a thick as a brick rhythm section. Schulz’s drumming and overall timekeeping is flawless as he pushes the natural accents perfectly and plays with amazing feel. All vocal work/contributions work brilliantly across the board and fill the sonic space peacefully and unobtrusively. The mix and overall production value is Top Flight presenting high end clarity and solid low end punch. From melodic “Time is Now” to slamming “Slouch Potato” and "Jamo” and “No One Will Know” to heartfelt Shipwrecked” and “Sometimes” to soulful “Try” to grooving Welcome Home Heartache” to upbeat “Lone Gone Love” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 17 “Back to Class” the perfect final statement.
Back to Class is a amazing collection of music and is worth every penny. Once again the proceeds from this project benefit Detroit Public Schools. All songs are sung from a very passionate and soulful perspective. It’s strong suit – the wide musical variety and flavors one gets not only from the amazing plethora of artists and vocalists, but from Schultz and his Soul Machine. Finally let's give credit to the songwriting, playing and production virtuoso of Drew Schultz. Schulz really deserves allot of credit for making all this happen. But above all he deserves credit for being a true visionary serving us up a hot slice of Mo-Town Soul that is of musical legend.