Proving Performance is Still Alive: Mel Alston Jr and The Sound Barrier Experience

Many would argue that the art of live performance is dying. Mel Alston Jr and The Sound Barrier Experience would like to disagree.

Mel Alston Jr is a lifelong musician, singing since he was a child. The Philadelphia native joined up with The Sound Barrier Experience (SBE), crafting a blend of soulful R&B and energetic rock that, though perhaps not unique, is certainly effective. Supported by SBE, Alston recently took the stage at The Fire in Philly – the result is Movie MuZik: Directors Cut EP.

Alston’s voice is exceptional. It’s at turns pure and soulful, powerful and passionate, and deeply emotional. He can hit a wide range, from falsetto highs to silky smooth lows, but one thing Alston never does is embellish unnecessarily – he avoids the bells, whistles, trills, and flashiness that is, by my ears, the downfall of many otherwise talented singers.

He is also versatile. It shifts flawlessly from the smooth R&B of “Science N Math” and “Wind Shield Factor” to the heavily rock-influenced “The Day After Forever” and “The Impossible,” which features bandmates Jay Griffy and Dakota Black, who each rap powerful verses.

The band – which includes Gregg James, Mick Daddy, Morris McFarland, and Thorobred, in addition to the three vocalists – is every ounce as talented as Alston. They’re clearly all masters of not just their instruments, but of a range of musical styles. In an EP of five live-recorded songs, there isn’t a single note out of place.

Going to Philly in the near future? Stop by and check out Mel Alston Jr and the rest of The Sound Barrier Experience – they’re sure to restore your faith in the art of live performance.

Movie MuZik is also available on BandCamp and, if you love it as much as I did, the full album is available on iTunes.

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