Possibly the most relevant question to ask about Lifted, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews' second Blue Note album is "Are you ready to dance?" "You'd better be" is the only acceptable answer. Despite a shelf full of booty-shaking NOLA jazz-funk releases that draw on many branches of the modern musical tree, Lifted most closely resembles the unbridled energy, joy, and pathos of a Trombone Shorty performance. In the cover photo, his late mom, Lois Nelson Andrews, lifts her young son during a second line parade. She seemingly knows what he will accomplish. Andrews dedicated this album to her memory. Recorded at his Buckjump Studio with producer Chris Seefried, this is Trombone Shorty surrounded by longtime friends, collaborators, and the reality of everyday life in the Treme district that birthed and nurtured him.
Album opener "Come Back" offers a syncopated snare wed to a modern gospel brass vamp framing a deep funk-soul that joins honesty, love, loss, and perseverance into an anthem of possibility influenced by Allen Toussaint, Sly Stone, and Curtis Mayfield. Its reverbed chorus vocal, B-3 organ, and ticking drum kit render a mighty groove quotient. "Lie to Me" juxtaposes an Afro-Cubano choral chant with cracking snares and a nasty drop-funk bassline. Andrews leads the horn section playing trumpet and trombone alongside saxophones; the band blends NOLA funk and Caribbean son. "I'm Standing Here" hosts blues-rock guitar ace Gary Clark, Jr. as a guest. His Hendrixian "Manic Depression" vamp undergirds a hard-swinging horn section and vocals chorus as Clark engages in a sky-scorching duo with Andrews. On the gospelized funk of "What It Takes," he duets with award-winning Christian singer Lauren Daigle -- an artist who knows exactly what trial by fire means: She was vilified by her evangelical community after refusing to condemn LGBT+ people. New Breed Brass Band joins on the anthemic "Everybody in the World," infusing second line with hip-hop, funk, and jazz harmony as Shorty testifies with a female backing chorus. Freaky Pete Murano's overdriven electric guitar owns the riff in the title track before the horn section revs up to meet him. The low-down funk in the verse frames the singers, who wrap themselves in the positive lyric message. "Forgiveness" weds breezy soul to modern gospel with glorious vocals, strings, and organ under a rock combo, as Andrews helms the horns. "Might Not Make It Home" draws on the influences of Stevie Wonder and George Clinton's P-Funk with knotty, syncopated horns and Brandon Butler's synth bass. Seefried's production on Lifted is polished, but there isn't anything extra -- it's all New Orleans. While the song lyrics often reveal poignancy and harshness in everyday life, the music made by Trombone Shorty and company is joyous, celebratory, and filled with affirmation, commitment, and infectiously compulsive dance beats.