Magnolia Boulevard’s debut album, “New Illusion” is contagious with its bluesy, soulful flavor and grooves that jam effortlessly. I listened to the Kentucky quintet’s last track, “Sister” first. Maggie Noelle, lead vocalist, wrote the song in honor of her best friend. It’s the record’s standout. The gentle picking guitar and rumbling bass, that is almost meditative, initiates its heartfelt sentiments. The tribute is captivating both in its lyrics and accompanying instrumentals. “My sister, my sister she walks her own way.” I am extremely fortunate to have so many strong ‘sisters.’ These are the women who pick you up when you’re paralyzed from heartbreak or hold your hands when you are too frightened to walk alone. They are role models, so when it’s your turn, you can be their pillar. “My sister, young woman, she painted her trail. My sister, my sister, she walked through hell. She painted her colors and made her own way. My sister, my sister it’s good seeing you today.” The song is magic just like the special bond between amazing, female friends. (‘Sisters,’ I love you.)
“Ride” is the EP’s first tune. Immediately, Susan Tedeschi and the Trucks Band is triggered. At the end of the first line of the chorus, “You tell me that you’ve had your better days,” southern style sounds bookend the lyrics. “Lovin’ Me” and “Smooth Sailin’” change course in a really exciting manner. Both songs demonstrate the band’s ability to superbly flex their style and are reminiscent of legendary Chaka Khan who has had an expansive range starting in the early 1970’s. Throughout the record Noelle, guitarist Gregg Erwin, drummer Todd Copeland, keyboardist Ryan Allen and bassist John Roberts bring deep ballads, up-tempo but still lonesome, passionate instrumentals. The strong riffs and rich, striking keyboards had me craving more of their complex and warm sound. Although the album is short in length the group’s power is undeniable. I want to travel further down Magnolia Boulevard. I can’t wait for them to continue paving their road, exploring all the twists and turns they have to offer.