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Southern Avenue bring back Memphis soul on Stax

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Southern Avenue are named after the original Memphis address of Stax Records, and that tells you most of what you need to know about their sound. Their self-titled debut—on Stax itself, naturally—is a boiling retro-soul primer. Israeli guitarist Ori Naftaly can be a bit fussy, but at his best he plays dirty blues licks that would make Billy Gibbons smile from behind his beard. Drummer Tikyra Jackson keeps the beat crisp and soulful. But what really makes Southern Avenue is Tikyra’s sister, singer Tierinii, whose gospel-tinged growl drips equal parts fire and sex. When she pleads “I was trying to love you / But you didn’t notice” on “What Did I Do,” she both convinces you of her desperation and makes you wonder how the hell the guy could possibly not have noticed. Most of the tracks are stone -cold soul, but Tierinii shows some improv chops on the jazzy “Wildflower,” while “Rumble” blurs the divide between the dozens and rap with quick-jivin’ lines like “Came home late about three in the mornin’ / Tennessee whiskey got my feelings flowin.’” Tierinii has a riveting stage presence, and the band nail covers of classics like “Rock Steady.” They do the Stax legacy proud.   v

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