Carolina Funk: Barn Burner On Tobacco Road
(Normaltown Records)
Add date: 6.25.2024
Release date: 6.28.2024

Apple Music
Normaltown Records

In February 2022, Boulevards, the project led by musician Jamil Rashad, released its fourth studio album, Electric Cowboy: Born in Carolina Mud. That album culminated years of slow building and provided the Raleigh, N.C. native the breakthrough he deserved. After an 18 month rigorous run, he wasn’t ready to take a deserved break. 

Upon Electric Cowboy’s release, Rashad’s creative ideas continued to flow. He reached out to friends and collaborators, like writer Gentle Nature and J.J. Whitefield of German funk group The Poets of Rhythm and began to mold his new ideas into full-fledged songs. After the campaign for Electric Cowboy wound down, Rashad returned to his home state of North Carolina and got to work on his fifth studio album. 

As the song ideas flowed, Rashad explored the importance of self-reflection and personal experiences, in particular themes of love and vulnerability. Drawing from that prism and channeling the joy of his recent engagement, the artist had plenty of positive momentum heading into the recording sessions. 

“After Electric Cowboy was released, I thought hard about my intentions for the next album,” shares Rashad. “The objective was to make a record that echoes the spirit of my live shows and reflects the truest ‘me.’”

Carolina Funk: Barn Burner on Tobacco Road is a tip of the cap to his home and will be released by the New West Records imprint Normaltown Records. At Killion Studios in Los Angeles, Rashad teamed with producer Sergio Rios (Neal Francis, Say She She, Orgone) to create an album chock full of a memorable uptempo “Southern Fried Funk.” For the first time in Rashad’s career, he recorded live and straight to tape, capturing the true essence of these songs, which was brought to life by Dan Hastie (keys), Dale Jennings (bass) and Sam Halterman (drums).

“Working with Sergio Rios as a producer allowed me to refine my vision while preserving the raw, infectious sound that feels most authentic to me,” Rashad adds.

With an assist from Whitefield, Rashad captured the raw, crunchy sounds he’d been hoping to incorporate into his recordings. The album also features the handy work of Mike Buckley (Daptones, Budos Band, Jalen N’gonda), who composed the horn parts, Blake Rhein (Durand Jones & The Indications), and Kendra Morris (Colemine Records). This is the album that finally captures the energy of Rashad’s high octane live show onto wax. Black Pumas virtuoso Adrian Quesada and Will Grantham mixed Carolina Funk: Barn Burner on Tobacco Road, giving Rashad the exact sound he sought to capture.

Rashad points to “What We Live For” as one of his favorite songs from the 10-song collection. In the past, he’s hidden his personal lyrics underneath the power of his groove-laden instrumentals. Not here. He admits that hearing the finished version gave him chills and he teared up a bit. At its heart, it’s what Carolina Funk is about: celebrating love. As tender as “What We Live For” is, Rashad didn’t want to get too hung up on sentimentality. The song’s rhythm and melody is club-ready with its funk-soul.

The same goes for “Run and Move.” Describing the fears of vulnerability in a relationship, Rashad brings an astute perspective to describing human nature. Despite it being one of his favorite songs, he admits that it was one of the toughest to track in the studio. Even so, the collection captures Rashad’s ethos as an artist and is his most well-rounded to date. 

Like any great artist, Rashad writes in a fashion that is true to himself, yet has the ability for his rapidly expanding fan base to relate to. With Carolina Funk: Barn Burner on Tobacco Road, Rashad shows that he can’t stop and won’t stop channeling his creativity into funk-powered hits.