REVIEW: Ivan Neville – Touch My Soul


Although I have been a devoted metalhead since the tender age of 10, there are a good number of music genres that may not come off as the most obvious candidates for my dark, guilty pleasures – and that particular, swampy kind of funk groove originating from New Orleans happens to be one of them. (It may have something to do with the fact that I saw DIRTY DOZEN BRASS BAND on stage way back in the early 1990s…). Now, if there is one American artist who could be quite rightly described as the embodiment of that specific sound, it would be Ivan Neville. Considering his bloodline runs through one of the most influential groups New Orleans has ever produced, the NEVILLE BROTHERS, and that he has played with high-profile artists, as diverse as Keith Richards and Bonnie Raitt, it was nothing short of a major event that, on April 21st, 2023, his first solo album in 20 years, “Touch My Soul,” was released via Mascot Label Group. To be honest, neither his various solo endeavors nor his work with DUMPSTAFUNK over the years have made their way to my delicate ears, here in the back of the proverbial beyond. Hence, this new album is a good opportunity to catch up to speed with what’s up in the New Orleans funk department.

The opening track, “Hey All Together,” is a rather smooth introduction to the album. Perhaps a little too smooth, if you ask me. The song is charged with such a radio-friendly aura that it, frankly, does not sound particularly funky, not in the sweaty-hot New Orleans way that I expected. It is a nice, feel-good song, nonetheless, so I wouldn’t dial another station if this song came on while driving to town. Before the subtle twinge of disappointment gets a hold of you, however, the album is quick to make amends; “Greatest Place on Earth” is exactly what I was hoping for – fat New Orleans groove with killer horn hooks and all! As luck would have it, this song also triggers strong DIRTY DOZEN BRASS BAND flashbacks.

It appears the first two tracks set the modus operandi for the album. I noticed that the songs come in pairs: first, along comes a softer track, more or less of Marvin Gaye‘s “Sexual Healing” type, then, it is followed by a tighter, groovier number, engendering the whole selection a roller-coaster ride of sorts. Obviously, not all of the softer songs go down particularly well with me, but some of them sound rather nice, such as “Blessed,” which has a nice, fat bass groove in spite of being a spiritual ballad type of thing. To give credit where credit is due, not even the most syrupy, gospel-tinged ballads come off as particularly annoying, regardless of the fact that I am notoriously opposed to ballads to begin with. Of course, it helps that Mr. Neville has such a golden voice. I guess he could recite the phone book and I’d still be thrilled.

The more banging funkathons are where the album really shines. “Dance Music Love” has a somewhat Prince-like aura, from the NEW POWER GENERATION era, which is just another way of saying the song fucking rocks! “Stand For Something” is perhaps a tad more tradition-savvy, with its 1970s-tinted feel. The press release was not very informative about the lineup on this album, but whoever is behind the drum kit, he or she sure knows how to play ”in the pocket,” as the saying goes! “This Must Be the Place” is another nod towards the funk of yesteryear, resonating with the air of KOOL & THE GANG‘s more mellow endeavors.

The outing brings things to a close with an instrumental piano track, which serves almost as a sort of meditation, albeit being perhaps a little too short for that sort of thing. All the same, it gives ample time to reflect upon the album. Quite frankly, being such a Sunday soldier when it comes to contemporary funk, I must say I have rather mixed feelings about this outing; the 50/50 split between ballads and bangers is a little too much for my personal liking and still, the funkier cuts drip way too much sweat to dismiss this whole effort as music to drowse off to. By and large, if funk is anything to live by, and that New Orleans sound, in particular, then it would be a faux pas of metaphysical proportions not to check this selection out – or, as the maestro himself puts it, “Touch My Soul” is “not unlike a good bowl of chicken soup – very soothing for the soul.”

Written by Jani Lehtinen


  1. Hey All Together
  2. Greatest Place on Earth
  3. Might Last a Lifetime
  4. Dance Music Love
  5. Touch My Soul
  6. Stand For Something
  7. Blessed
  8. This Must Be the Place
  9. Pass It All Around
  10. Beautiful Tears


(this information was not disclosed by the press release)


Mascot Label Group