Ain't Nothing Fancy (Stag)
Reviewed by Kahron Spearman, Fri., July 10, 2015
Soul music quickly weeds out the poseurs. The pressure of James Brown's and Sam Cooke's perfection (or perception of it) lurks over every generation. Then there's the self-imposed pressure of labeling yourself "dynamite Texas soul." Dynamic Austin septet Roxy Roca withstands some of the pressures of bygone icons on Ain't Nothing Fancy simply by forgoing reinvention of the wheel. Lead talent Taye Cannon shades the aforementioned elders vocally, appropriating just enough without turning into a blue-eyed clone. His singing resonates emotionally with the best contemporaries, employing the lower timbres of loneliness on standout "I Don't Wanna Dream No More." After that, the overarching issue becomes the starched cleanliness of the material. Everything's played sharply and arrangements puzzle-pieced together, yet as demonstrated on "Cornbread" and unofficial single "Try My Love," some subtle untidiness is missing. All the edges have been sanded off. Sticking to bread-and-butter basics remains the point to Ain't Nothing Fancy – to celebrate a past some were swift to bury with the pioneers – but it's a pale substitute for the real deal.