“Soulfire” boasts a righteous blend of drums, back-up vocals and horns that pulse with Little Steven’s nimble guitar playing. The rocker unleashes an array of six-string tricks, from a steady disco-tinged vamp to an arena-sized solo, while his mighty vocal performance reveals tinges of Bruce Springsteen’s bombastic howl and Bob Dylan’s weary croon.
“I wrote it several years ago with one of the Breakers, a Danish band on my label Wicked Cool,” Van Zandt tells Rolling Stone of “Soulfire.” “And although this is my first album ever that is not overtly political, the lyric happens to be quite relevant. The song felt like the obvious centerpiece of an album that is conceived to not only reintroduce myself as an artist, but also serve as a summary of a lifetime of work. It’s the spiritual center philosophically on an album that contains many of my musical roots displayed for the first time like blues, jazz, and doo-wop. That combination ended up being a very accurate representation of where I’m coming from and who I am today.”
Soulfire marks Van Zandt’s first album since 1999’s Born Again Savage. The record developed out live performances Van Zandt staged with his band the Disciples of Soul in 2016. The group learned 22 songs for the concerts then hit the studio, cutting a mix of covers and originals for Soulfire. Among the covers are Etta James’ “The Blues Is My Business” and James Brown’s “Down and Out In New York City.”
Van Zandt and the Disciples of Soul will play the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, New Jersey April 22nd and have a string of European dates scheduled for this summer. A North American trek in support of Soulfire will be announced soon.