“Soul Steps” is the name of the second album by the Berlin and San Diego-based band The Everettes, who have been an insider tip in the soul landscape for a few years now. On the one hand, the title alludes to the musical footprints they follow, because their danceable music is rooted in Northern Soul, Stax and Motown and with their three female singers they carry the magic of the 60s girl groups into the present. On the other hand, the songs are also about personal development steps and the paths and decisions one has to take in life with oneself and others.
The songs on “Soul Steps” are even more mature than on the previous album and convince with their catchiness and compactness – almost all of them are shorter than three and a half minutes. Alexander Dommisch (guitar, bass) and Maximilian Schubert (drums) were mainly responsible for the compositions and arrangements in collaboration with the singers, which due to the spatial distance sometimes even took place in Zoom sessions. The musical influences go beyond the classic soul & r’n’b of the 60s to Beatlesque pop, 70s West Coast sounds and funk.
One of the album’s strengths is that each track has something that makes it stand out, and all of them together present the band’s very own overall sound. Producer Dennis Rux (Angels of Libra), who recorded the rhythm tracks and vocals in his Hamburg studio with analogue equipment and also mixed the record, played a major role in this. Guests included disco soft rocker Joel Sarakula on keys and Jean-Luc Jossa (The Ruffcats) on percussion.
The opener “Into The Night” is an orchestral Northern Soul track about setting out into the unknown. “So Many Ways” ponders somewhere between Philly and Laurel Canyon about the inner overload of making the supposedly right decisions for oneself in life. With classic Motown pop and driving horns, you come to terms with yourself again for the time being on “Number Nine” and decide that you should do right by yourself first and foremost. “[Just give me the] Good Life”, Jess then demands self-confidently with swinging Britpop references. In “Heads Up High”, Laura reflects on the ups and downs of a relationship and how you emerge from them stronger together. The song also reflects this in its musical form, starting as a ballad with impressive brass accents and a grooving middle section. At the end of the first side, Katharina questions in a cinematic 60s shuffle what too much well-meant advice does to you, “who I am in a thousand lessons?”
The B-side begins with the album’s first single. “Soul Thing” is a driving R&B anthem about what matters in life: being a good person. “Calling Out Today” defies inner demons with a haunting early 70s groove, while the uptempo blues “Red Flags” recommends freeing oneself from external, toxic influences as well. Finally, the last three songs are about interpersonal relationships and how to make the best of them: “Second Chance” is a Motown girl group shuffle with unison vocals, “Make It Right” combines sugary sweet melodies with funky rhythms and “Forever True” ends the record stylishly and smoothly with big strings.
With a lot of charm, likeable performances and their self-titled debut album released in 2020, The Everettes have won themselves an international audience and have been a permanent fixture at the renowned Baltic Soul Weekender since 2019. Their trademark is their melodies and the special blend of the three characters of their lead singers. On the one hand, there is Jess Roberts, originally from the north of England and now at home in San Diego, California, who has already released singles on Acid Jazz and brings a lot of power to the trio with her bluesy timbre. Katharina Dommisch, on the other hand, captivates with a soft, clear voice reminiscent of Carole King or Karen Carpenter, while Laura Niemeyer’s singing carries a lot of warmth and classic soul. Behind her is a solid band with a driving rhythm section and pointedly placed horns, supplemented here and there by shimmering strings.