Hoods And Shades
As the story goes: during the summer of 2010, Andre was invited to appear at Don Was’ Concert of Colors in Detroit alongside Mavis Staples and a diverse roster of world, classical, and pop/rock acts. Ever the one to seize an opportunity, Andre both brought down the house at the Concert and got together with his “Detroit boys” the next day to record, as he called it, “the Andre Williams folk album.”
Hoods and Shades is the result, nine songs created by music roadmen led by THE music roadman. Making contributions are: renowned Grammy Award-winning producer Don Was on upright bass, Motown legend/Funk Brother Dennis Coffey on acoustic and electric guitars, Dirty Three drummer Jim White, Greasy Carlisi (Robert Gordon, Chris Spedding) and Jim Diamond (Dirtbombs) on
electric bass, and longtime producer Matthew Smith (Nathaniel Mayer, Outrageous Cherry, Volebeats).
The album plays out like an afternoon hangout among music peers, speaking of experiences through their instruments, dynamic stylings, and overall touch.
Leading the charge is Andre, equal parts weathered hustler and musical sage. The album title is a knowing nod to the streets, long his home, and the folks hiding behind hooded sweatshirts and sun glasses; buried in despair, danger and anti-social behavior—all things that Detroit, Andre’s default musical base,
has an abundance of. His signature time-cultivated, low-end vocal purr oozes come-ons as sweet as they are suggestive (“Gimme what you want and I’ll give you what you need” in “Gimme”) just as naturally as he pays tribute to his friend and underground soul icon Swamp Dogg (“Swamp Dogg’s Hot Spot”). In the Southside folk sermon “A Good Day To Feel Bad” Andre stars as the antihero,
unfolding his cautionary tale: “It took awhile for me to see the games / that men really play / and see the difference between right and wrong.”
While the “Detroit boys” bring their backbone of slow-burn, garage-leaning R&B/country blues jams, Hoods and Shades takes stabs in new directions too. In “I’ve Got Money on my Mind” Coffey, White, and Was explore upbeat, short-but-sweet melodic turnarounds à la 77-era Talking Heads that transition into
psychedelic guitar explorations recalling Funkadelic’s spaced-out classic Maggot Brain. Likewise, “Jaw Dropper” smoothly takes on the challenge of 12-bar, rockabilly roots.
Hoods and Shades is perhaps the most intriguing, feel-oriented, thematically driven effort yet from this musical legend.