Royal Southern Brotherhood, Don’t Look Back: The Muscle Shoals Sessions (Ruf Records)

Though Don’t Look Back refers to the banjo-propelled, reggae-tinged title track, it could also be Royal Southern Brotherhood’s philosophy these days with the departure of blistering guitarists Mike Zito and Devon Allman.

Their shoes are capably filled, however, with newest members Bart Walker and Tyrone Vaughan (son of Jimmie Vaughan) who brings more of a funk and rhythmic edge. While it rocks in the Royal Southern Brotherhood (RSB) tradition, at the same time, there isn’t the feeling of songs belonging to any particular member, such as a Zito or an Allman, as it did on RSB’s sophomore effort heartsoulblood.

The arrangements are highly interactive with various parts—Neville’s mesmerizing world rhythms, Walker and Vaughn’s guitars and Charlie Wooten’s fluid, sometimes melodious bass lines—darting in and out. While there are plenty of all-out guitar assaults, in other places, Walker and Vaughan riff off each other in call-and-response fashion. Additionally, Walker shades in different sounds with banjo and mandolin.

Interestingly, Don’t Look Back was recorded at FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals, Alabama whose hit bound reputation was built by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. Although the experience was admittedly somewhat spiritual, living together in a rented house only deepened RSB’s cohesiveness—something that’s really felt here.

Although you couldn’t escape these grooves if you wanted to, there’s a sensitive and cerebral side as well with personal testimonies (“Better Half”) and messages for mankind (“Penzi”). The soul breezy “It’s Time For to Love” calls for brotherhood and unity for all. And that fits too, because for RSB, moving forward is the only way to go.