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Single Review: Vili V – “Tupelo Rhythm”

Vili V’s “Tupelo Rhythm” isn’t shy about trumpeting its musical debts. He’s an artist who wears his influences on his sleeve. The rough-hewn guitars, spot-on drumming, and robust vocals burning bright in this song are enough to put it over the top, but he adds a little extra fairy dust to top things off for this gem of a tune. It serves notice, as well, that the soon to hit new album In Daddy’s Arms Again may be his best studio album yet.

 Vili V feels this music deep within. It isn’t especially difficult for a trained/skilled musician to pick up a guitar or play with a band and deliver roots rock songs that check off the respective necessary boxes. It’s a more difficult proposition, however, to tackle such an abiding style and do something new with it, applying a fresh coat of paint to a long-standing structure. Vili V makes it sound effortless, however, and “Tupelo Rhythm” sounds personal while achieving across the board appeal.

I love the guitar playing. It has great distortion effects that give the riffs and fills the sort of crunch rock fans demand. Vili V’s music eschews the cliched lead guitar moments that are so prevalent in the music in favor of a more orchestral approach, playing as part of a band, that I believe serves the song far better. It’s another element of the performance that taps into the retro rock feeling with conviction rather than merely going through the motions.

The drumming propels the song forward with energy. It never threatens to veer out of control, however, and the no frills approach serves the track as well. It sways with the customary swing you’d expect from material like this and the production does an outstanding job capturing its muscular power. Vili V and his cohorts are never intent on pulverizing or overwhelming the listeners but, instead, provoking a bodily response and getting under their skin.

It’s successful in doing so. It stretches out a little further than other songs in this vein to reach that goal, but it does not overextend its reach. The piano that comes to the surface during the second part of the track taps even deeper into the aforementioned retro rock tone. It sounds like it’s coming straight out of the roadhouse rather than the conservatory and the extra percussive touch it brings to the song is a welcome addition.

The veteran Hamilton, Canada singer, musician, and songwriter clearly knows what he’s doing. Furthermore, he is still making music as if he’s just embarked on his career rather than more than two decades down the road. “Tupelo Rhythm” is going to be an outstanding track in his live set as well; it’s written, in part, with the stage in mind. It’s there where it will truly reach its highest point.

Vili V has kept the faith. He’s making music that means something to him and you can hear it in every word and note. Long may he run. 

Loren Sperry

About Michael Stover

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