With a smooth R&B soul, JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound released their third record, Howl. Drawing on themes of love and sex, this full-length embodies a very personal tone. In “Married For A Week,” for instance, JC Brooks cries out, “Now I fool around with/Every stranger you know.” Fans of Gary Clark Jr.’s Blak And Blu will appreciate the urban blues rhythm of Howl. Following the release of Want More in 2011, the Chicago grown group appeared to tone down the funk a bit and crank up the heavy soul with a touch of pop.
By far one of the highlights on Howl is the piano that brings a very unique essence. In the 10th song, “Cold,” the piano takes on a personality of its own, slowly building with each note. However, while “Cold” is favored, it ends in a very awkward way that seems more of a production flaw than anything else. Another strong track is “River,” drawing on more gentle piano notes while providing a balance of emotional R&B singing, soft female backing vocals and steady guitar riffs that makes for a captivating ballad. Meanwhile, in the 12th track, “These Things,” some U2 influences are echoed through their paced drumming and airy guitar notes. The thing I admire most about the 13-track album is that is has a cohesive sound, but each song is able to stand out on its own by highlighting various elements and influences. Howl is a soulful 50-minute experience that will rock listeners to the core.