“Somebody open up the door / Well yeah, I’m back to rock some more / If you’re a little on the shy side / Don’t worry, girl, I’ve got the cure,” Stevie Van Zandt sings on “Communion,” the opening song on his first album of original material in twenty years, Summer of Sorcery. Made with the Disciples of Soul, the record is another electrifying collection of heavy groovin’ rock, pop, R&B, Latin, funk, and soul. Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul were in the midst of a North American jaunt supporting the disc when he had to cut the tour abruptly short on doctor’s orders. “I thought I could shake this sinusitis, but it doesn’t seem to be going away,” he announced in a statement. “I’ve never canceled shows before. I feel terrible about this, but my doctors are telling me there’s just no way to continue right now. I really hope we can make up these dates someday somehow.” Fans in New York, where Stevie lives, and Massachusetts, Bronx-born opener Peter Wolf’s longtime home, have caught a break, however, as Little Steven preserved two dates, November 2 at the Chevalier Theatre in Medford and November 6 at the Beacon; the latter is being recorded for DVD release.
Summer of Sorcery has a cinematic scope with a determinedly summer feel. “Please let this be the first summer of the rest of my life,” he pleads on “Love Again.” On the well-titled “Soul Power Twist,” he sings, “It’s an endless summer night / Liberation’s in the air / I wanna say I love you to everybody everywhere / I see the whole gang they’re all here tonight / They’re making a scene because the time is right.” The girl-group-influenced “A World of Our Own” sounds like it takes place on a street corner on a steamy August day. And the propulsive “Vortex” could be the theme song for a gritty summer action thriller. Van Zandt might be turning sixty-nine later this month, but he’s inextricable from the youthful energy of rock and roll. “Hey, old man, get out of my way / I got no interest in anything you gotta say,” he declares on “Superfly Terraplane.” Little Steven’s live performances features songs from most of his solo albums, from 1982’s Men without Women and 1987’s Freedom — No Compromise to 1989’s Revolution and 2017’s comeback, Soulfire, as well as unexpected covers, including one from his boss of his main gig. Wolf, who has made numerous guest appearances with the E Street Band over the decades, opens things up with the Midnight Travelers, whose latest album is 2016’s A Cure for Loneliness. November 6 should indeed provide a cure with summer long over and the darkness of fall settling in.