Album Reviews,  Music

Peace, Love, And Funk. Magnolia Boulevard Releases Their Debut EP ‘New Illusion’

Lexington, Kentucky’s Magnolia Boulevard Released Their Debut EP, ‘New Illusion’ on August 8th. Join us as we introduce you to the band while we show ya some of the reasons that Magnolia Boulevard should be on your radar.

I’ve been involved in music for a very long time. I’ve seen many careers blossom, and many more fizzle out. I’m a bit jaded at times because of that, BUT when I hear a song or an artist that immediately stands the hairs up on my neck and arms, I know my gut is telling me something. The first notes that I heard from Magnolia Boulevard did that and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Capture Kentucky was still pretty new then, so I had no idea who they were, but I immediately had to hear more. That meant a late-night rabbit hole on the ole YouTube, and later attending several shows. Both of which were great decisions.

The first song that drew me in was, fittingly enough, the first song on the EP. “Ride” was the perfect blend of powerful vocals, beautiful guitar work, layered with a good ole Moog and a funky as hell rhythm section.

Working with Mr. Paul Reed Smith, yes that PRS of PRS guitars, the band had an arsenal of guitars, amps, and pedals available to them. Magnolia Boulevard put them all to good use for ‘New Illusion’, but there were two unexpected bonuses. The first being the wisdom that Mr. Paul Reed Smith would share and lastly, the use of Paul’s home studio. Much like myself, Paul was all-in for Magnolia Boulevard.

Having worked with some of the greatest guitarists on our planet, Paul heard what I heard from the band, and he became hellbent on launching the band onto the national stage. This EP was the culmination of that determination and he too felt “Ride” was the song that would kick open doors. That’s why “Ride” kicks off this sampler platter of an EP.

Paul and the band reshaped some melodies, but really kept the song structure largely intact. I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right? What “Uncle Paul” did add was horns and backing vocals. In case you’re unaware, I’m a total sucker for horns and great harmonies. With those additions and tweaks “Ride” has been elevated to the next level and you can enjoy a performance of it for yourself right here.

Slowing things down a bit, “Lovin’ Me” allows us to get a bit closer to the heart of vocalist Maggie Noelle. She shares the one thing we all experience and that is love, but “Lovin’ Me” also allows Maggie to shine. Maggie’s vocals are entirely unique, yet somehow familiar at the same time. She has one of those voices that are immediately recognizable and her performance is absolutely beautiful.

While “Ride” serves its’ purpose, “Lovin’ Me” also gives you a glimpse into the beast of a machine this band is on the stage and under the lights. Extended out a bit more at 5:01, “Lovin’ Me” showcases the entire band in more of an open jam style that will, in my humble opinion, be what elevates this band to the level they deserve.

“Smooth Sailin'” is up next, this song brings the funkiness to your sampler platter. A straight up 70’s bass line sets the tone as the band slowly comes into the fold building in momentum. I found myself thinking of Earth, Wind and Fire on my first listen and that’s totally a compliment. Maggie soars as drummer Todd Copeland and bassist John Roberts bring the funk. All the while, Ryan Allen adds the atmosphere on the keys, and then there’s Gregg Erwin.

In the past, I have referred to Gregg as a reincarnated Duane Allman. If you’ve made it this far, you already know what I’m saying.

The EP ends with the first single released by the band, “Sister.” For me, this song is planted perfectly within Maggie’s wheelhouse. She’s able to bring in a bit of soul, seemingly teetering on the edge of her vocal control. But as you get to know the band and their music, you’ll know wholeheartedly that Maggie is never out of control. The song is a beautiful punctuation mark on your first experience of a band that could very well end up becoming legendary.