Houston’s own The Suffers are here to shake up the notion that they’re another soul revival band. Just as much influenced by classic rock & roll, country, Latin and Southern hip hop as they are the Stax/Volt or Muscle Shoals era, The Suffers are bringing a fresh approach to what they have coined Gulf Coast Soul. Late night legend David Letterman proclaimed in early 2015 "If you can’t do this, get out of the business", let it be known that The Suffers are here to stay! With a year that included performances for NPR’s Tiny Desk, Newport Folk Fest, Austin City Limits Music Festival and The Late Show, The Suffers have delivered over 150 stirring performances of their signature 3rd Coast Soul sound to thousands of new and old fans alike. The large ensemble packs each position of the rhythm and horn section with a level of talent and taste that provides the perfect foundation for singer Kam Franklin's massive voice. The band's sincerity and emotion are laid bare in their music, which has garnered an audience so broad and varied that they may prove to be the panacea for a jaded and stratified live music scene. Their 2016 self-titled debut album hit shelves on February 12th and will be the continuation of what 2015's Make Some Room EP started. Expect to see the band’s name continue to climb up the tier on posters of the best festivals around.
For singer‐songwriter Sarah Jaffe, Don’t Disconnect is both a mission statement and a call to arms; an album about getting to know yourself in a hyper-connected world that makes it nearly impossible to do just that. The leadoff track from the Texas‐born musician’s third LP sets the tone: “Middle of the line/ Middle of the road,” Jaffe sings over mid-‐tempo beats on “Ride It Out,” “Nowhere to hide on this logical plateau/ Gunna have to ride it out.” “Riding it out” -‐ that is, facing your reality and learning how to cope with it, is a powerful opening credo for an album titled Don’t Disconnect, which emphasizes the power of staying truly “connected” without unplugging from the world around you.
Since her debut EP Even Born Again was self-‐released in 2008, Jaffe’s endearingly stark narratives have gone from homespun folk-‐pop songs in the lineage of Lucinda Williams to decidedly cathartic blues‐pop ballads that rest at the intersection of indie, folk, and electronic ‐ without losing any of the thoughtfulness or intimacy.
Part of Jaffe’s charm comes from that fact that she writes all of her lyrics herself: after wowing crowds at Austin City Limits in the late 2000’s, she earned local recognition through the Dallas Observer Music Awards and signed a deal with Kirtland Records in 2010. Her Kirtland debut Suburban Nature followed exposing the artist to an international audience who found solace in the album’s confessional, literary aesthetic without forsaking, as one reviewer put it, “the decidedly punky force behind the quiet façade.” Suburban Nature was still minimal, produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Wye Oak) but this time Jaffe was joined by a band, who rounded out the tenderness in her voice with lush overtures that made it poignant.
By the time The Body Wins arrived in 2012, the pace of Jaffe’s music had shifted but the delicacy had not: the record’s instrumentation veered more towards electro-‐pop, but the troubadour storytelling and heartfelt lyricism was every bit as cerebral. “There’s always a point/ A point of no return,” she sang memorably on “Mannequin Woman,” which she later performed for her late night television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Outside of her own music, Jaffe was learning too, beginning a writing partnership with hip‐hop producer S1 (Beyoncé, Kanye West, Jay Z) for whom she also provided vocals. The duo’s first collaboration, “Bad Guy” became the first track on Eminem’s MMLP2 LP.
The highly anticipated follow-up to The Body Wins continues to showcase Jaffe’s range. Don’t Disconnect, released in 2014 on Kirtland, was produced by Midlake’s McKenzie Smith, whose “amazing partnership,” Jaffe enthuses, a warmness that bleeds through to the record, despite the technological connotations of its title. If The Body Wins emphasized the triumph of the corporeal ‐ in metaphors and direct references to “the body” – then Don’t Disconnect is about the humanity and vulnerability that lies within.
In 2015 Jaffe released Visions EP which featured Dallas-Metroplex favorites including Sam Lao, Zhora, and more.