Funk soul

Kev Bev: “History Books”

It doesn’t matter whether or not lyrics are written before or after the instrumentation; there’s always room to build contrast between subject matter and sonic character. Like for each individual genuinely troubled by the texts of “Pumped Up Kicks” or “Semi-Charmed Life”, there’s a multitude more who just love what they’re hearing without second guessing the words or inspiration. Which proves you can appeal to the masses based on a great groove alone – without having to sacrifice any lyrical integrity.

That just about tees us up for the new one from Kev Bev. For more than a decade now, multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter Kevin Collins has helmed this eponymous Austin thirteen-piece, formerly known as Kev Bev and The Woodland Creatures. This hefty ensemble is about as festive as it gets, thanks to the bevy’s proclivity towards dance, loyalty to the jam (sans genre constraints), and especially their collective grasp of historical musicology.

But Kev Bev’s knowledge of history isn’t limited to sound alone. In fact, they’ve just reflected on the heavy lessons from a poignant chapter in our nation’s past: that of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. And this where the power of positivity comes into play. History Books (the lead single and title track off KB’s next LP) confronts some tough stuff for sure, but balances the abysmal with killer brass, incredible rhythms, slick transitions, and easily accessible choreography, even if you’re in the library. The movement-inducing music video arrived just in time for International Women’s Day, not to mention a pop-up performance 5:45PM this Saturday at Austin City Hall for the Falasteen Street Museum and a record release show 8PM next Friday at ABGB alongside Bali Yaaah. So credit to Kev Bev, ’cause edutainment is rarely this infectious.