- 15 Jul 19
He might have played with Prince, but the fact that Adrian Quesada is part of the Brownout collective who produced 2018’s ridiculously funky instrumental tribute to Public Enemy, Fear Of A Brown Planet, should be all you need to know. He’s hooked up here with Eric Burton, a singer who busked his way from Santa Monica to Austin, to produce one of the soul/funk albums of the year. It’s no surprise they were one of the hits at SXSW and have been acclaimed by NPR as “the breakout band of 2019”.
The shuffle that opens first single ‘Black Moon Rising’ – “Every time you get dressed in black, you give a grown man a heart attack” - might evoke the urban soul of the seventies with tense strings over electric piano but this is no mere nostalgia trip. The record sounds as modern as tomorrow thanks to Quesada’s one-ear-on-hip-hop production. This is particularly evident in the way the drums stand out, songs like ‘Old Man’ and 'Know You Better' boasting hi-hat work tighter than a rusted bolt.
‘Fire’, another single, bounces on a brass riff into a guitar and tambourine chorus before a quasi-Morricone twang solo, and Burton’s voice is allowed to stand almost alone on the ballad ‘October 33’ as the backing vocals swirl up around him. ‘Stay Gold’ could fit on those great early Bill Withers albums, 'Touch The Sky' starts off on the back porch before heading downtown to get down at the club, and closer 'Sweet Conversation' manages to turn things psychedelic, but perhaps the best thing here is the rousing ‘Colors’ which builds up to a mighty chorus complete with handclaps – the secret of all great soul records - before another of the marvellous few bars of the toe-tapping and hip-bothering keyboards that dot this fine album, and a stinging guitar break courtesy of Quesada.
Imagine Bobby Womack fronting the Wu-Tang Clan of cuts like 'C.R.E.A.M.' or 'Triumph' and you'd be in the right ballpark. Expect to see this up there in those end of year lists beside that recent modern soul blast from Durand Jones & The Indicators. These BPs’ got soul.