The Essentials have made their name as a (large!) group of talented musicians who evoke the rich musical past of funk and soul. But while they may have weaned themselves on Otis and Aretha, these formally-trained musical masterminds don’t hesitate to apply their soulful sound to any song that tickles their fancy. The Essentials’ repertoire includes everything from timeless dance favorites like Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” to Joe Cocker’s groovy rock hit “Feelin’ Alright” to Britney Spears’ “… Baby One More Time,” as well as a growing number of originals. The band will introduce the newest of their self-penned tunes (the “penning” done in large part by saxophone player Gabe Dickinson) at the upcoming release party for their new EP, Something to Give, this Saturday.
Feeling good is what a horn-heavy, bass-thumping band like The Essentials is all about; Something to Give moves this concept beyond the dance floor and into the daily walk of life with songs that inspire as well as entertain. Lead vocalist Neil Thurston delivers lyrics with a distinctly oratory flavor, most notably on the track “Greed,” a lively-yet-cautionary song about American consumerism. Myeshia Cleveland’s sweet, soothing voice brings the love song “Crossroads” to life, and together Cleveland and Thurston take on anxious lust in the ballad “If You Run to Me.” With each track on Something to Give The Essentials prove themselves to be more than a killer wedding band (and they are a killer wedding band!). Nine men and one woman strong, they employ the tricks of the masters while staying fresh and looking forward, all the while allowing audiences to lose their inhibitions and say, in the words of James Brown, “I Feel Good.” The Essentials celebrate the release of Something to Give at 9 pm Saturday, Nov. 22, at John Henry’s. 21+. $10 includes entry and CD. — Adrienne van der Valk