– by Oliver Burkat
If infectious Bluesa-Funki-Dance music topped with a powerhouse soul voice is something you might be into, you definitely are going to want to check out Brooklyn-based sextet Heylady. And if you’re saying to yourself, “I’m not so sure I’m in to that type of thing…” Trust us, you are, you just might not know it yet. After one live set or one solitary sitdown session listening to their kickstarter-funded debut album About Time, most people with a pulse will be able to realize that this band is bursting with talent, writes killer music with undeniable soul, and has enormous potential to break out in today’s constantly-strengthening live and recorded music renaissance.
Formed in 2009 and elated to celebrate the release of About Time, Heylady recently threw an album release party at Arlene’s Grocery and had the sold-out room romping to their groove-laden party music. Leading the funk train is vocalist Nina Zeitlin who entrances rooms with her gargantuan, emotive and clearly dynamic voice. The sonic canvas that Nina soars over is created by Josh Green (guitar), Michael Devellis (sax/flute/violin/ewi), Daniel Gould (drums), Jake Leschinsky (bass) and Dave Cohen (keys, vocals)….and these guys seriously know how to dig into a deep groove. Stopping on a dime, fluctuating dynamics, and working together are innate in this band, who realize that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
About Time opens with sultry, syncopated vocals and the promise of 70s disco/funk on “Not Blue.” Zeitlin’s voice is a dynamic force which interplays with the other musicians perfectly, delivering upbeat optimism and positivity. “Night Owl” shifts between a calypso-shuffle and brooding, feel-good rock music, allowing Devellis’ saxophone to carry the melody and lead the band through energetic solos. Dirty distortion from an undeniably sexy blues/rock guitar riff gives “Drivin’” an infectious, deep groove while Gould inserts lightning-fast drum fills during the song’s quick stop and starts, flanking Zeitlin’s powerful vocal lines.
Great music needs to breathe too, and the slow R&B swing of “Bridges” provides the perfect, smooth ballad that takes the listener to a beautiful place. Dave Cohen’s full, pure vocals are a great compliment to Nina’s sultry tone, both individually and harmonized together. A singing sax line guides the mood throughout, lending an emotional yet invigorating narrative.
The album ends with a pair of upbeat, dance-funk tunes that refuse to keep crowds stagnant. “Okay” includes ripping saxophone over a disco-pop bass line, culminating in a duet of energetic vocal acrobatics. Closing About Time, the life-affirming rock/blues/funk crush of “Thank You” brings the crowd to a frenzy every time, building off of a deft, soul-igniting keyboard solo which leads Nina and the band into a hard-hitting culmination of happiness , reminding all of us that “you know you’re simply glad just to be alive.”
Heylady will be playing with Speakerbot, and Blendmode this Wednesday, June 12th at the first Live for Live Jams event at DROM in NYC, a monthly residency hosted by Live for Live Music, showcasing the best up and coming musical acts that you should know about. Come out on Wednesday and support your local music scene! You can get your tickets for the show here.