'Magic Honey' is a strong, sweaty, gut-driven collection of songs

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    Cyril Neville (Ruf Records)

    Percussionist-vocalist Cyril Neville is now 64 and, even after 45 years in the music business, is still thought of as the wild, free-spirited, and avant garde youngest brother.

    So be it when you're the youngest of four New Orleans musicians ensconced in that formidable Big Easy fame as The Neville Brothers.

    "Magic Honey" is a strong, sweaty, gut-driven collection of songs that speak to Cyril's talents, though probably more in lyrics and less in musical diversity than past albums. It has more of a blues-rock texture than a funk, reggae or world beat sound — perhaps a bit more pedestrian and mainstream on the whole — though there are blistering solos and still more cross-genre sounds and musical gumbo than what a lot of acts offer.

    Joining Cyril are two younger members of the Neville clan — Gaynielle and Omari Neville — on backup vocals, with guest appearances by New Orleans keyboard legends Dr. John and Allen Toussaint, and hot and upcoming Southern guitarist Mike Zito.

    The disc was produced by David Z, who's produced albums for Prince, Buddy Guy, and Etta James.

    Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.