The New Respects: ‘Freedom’ review

What I Know:
The New Respects are a four-piece from Nashville, Tennessee who are fast making a name for themselves.

Siblings Lexi (bass), Zandy (guitar) and Darius (drums) Fitzgerald, along with their cousin Jasmine Mullen (daughter of successful Christian/gospel singer Nicole C. Mullen), were featured in Rolling Stone’s ‘10 New Artists You Need to Know’ last year despite having only released a five-track EP (last year’s Here Comes Trouble) to that point.

What I Like:
The Fitzgerald household was, by all accounts, an unusual one to be brought up in for three-quarters of the New Respects. Dad was a pastor so the type of music young Lexi, Zandy and Darius could listen to was limited almost exclusively to gospel.

What that appears to have meant is that, now independent adults, they’ve got a lot of catching up to do. The best part of 70 years of popular music is there to be explored and, by the sounds of it, they’ve made decent progress; currently hovering around the late 60s / early 70s.

Apparently, when the band formed in High School, they were a folk act (“Mumford and Sisters” joked Lexi to NPR). But right from the moment Mullen sings “Ready, set, go” this track lays down what it’s all about. It’s a blues-rock stomp. It’s Led Zeppelin riffs, it’s Janis Joplin howling. It’s Hendrix attitude.

Frankly, it’s the likes of which we hear far too infrequently nowadays.

But don’t be fooled into thinking this is just old-school rip-off material. The New Respects’ youth and abundantly clear enthusiasm for this new-found genre means it feels like they’ve approached it with fresh energy and new-school production techniques (note the distinctly rap-influenced staccato bass stabs around the 2-minute mark) that make it feel vibrant and exciting again.

The only question is, given the rate at which they’ve moved so far, whether we’ll be having a drum n bass album from them by next year.

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