In the last five years, funk has made a resurgence to the music scene in seemingly endless variations. There is the explosivity of Lettuce, the grooves of the Motet, and the thrill of Turkuaz – all of which boast impressive brass sections. Then there is The New Mastersounds who, without horns, are providing a sophisticated and perhaps jazzier version to the beloved genre for a new generation of funk feigns.
With 16 years under their belt, the British four piece has released nine studio albums, two live albums, one remix album and three compilations released in the U.K., United States and Japan. On April 22, they will release The Nashville Session, recorded at Welcome to 1979 studio right in music city.
The album contains 10 tracks from throughout their catalog. There are no overdubs or guest collaborations, leaving the listener with The New Mastersounds in their purest form. It’s an ideal introduction to the band for anyone who recognizes their name but has yet to dive in.
After recording to one-inch tape and then mixed down to quarter-inch stereo tape, the album was then cut directly to vinyl lacquer. They have released 1,000 limited edition vinyls before the digital version becomes available on May 27.
There is a certain level of clarity you get on each instrument that you don’t necessarily hear on their studio albums. Most notably each note of that quintessential funky bass line is crystal throughout each track. Like staring at a top spin on a flat table, Pete Shand lays down the foundation for what is a reliably fast paced and mesmerizing experience.
Eddie Roberts brings audible precision to the guitar, a clear indication of their jazz influence. On several occasions, the listener may become hypnotized by the steady rhythm only to be jolted back to reality by the pure skill of his craft.
“Burnt Back,” is bursting with mood-lifting energy and includes the only noticeable lyric on the entire album – a faint “woo!” during an appropriate pause. Though it’s not clear whether this originated from the band or one of the handful of guests having the pleasure to witness the recording.
“Drop it Down” is probably the most unique of all the tracks. It begins with a stagnated and heavy bass that hops throughout the intro. It begins dark and mysterious before swirling back to a smooth groove.
During “The Minx,’ Roberts delivers the familiar “bow chicka bow wow” modulation like the “Shack” theme song. It pairs nicely with his own style, often referred to as “roughneck.”
The only song not their own is the last track, James Brown’s “In the Middle.” Roberts provides a stellar take on jazz guitarist Grant Green’s arrangement. The finished product is fast and sassy. Dance to this in front of the mirror and watch yo sly self start to move to the perfected rhythm and groove!
The Nashville Session should be listened to in its entirety. While some could say all their songs sound similar, this consistency will make for a fun Friday night happy-hour in a dimly lit bar, while suitable for a sophisticated yet cheerful dinner party at home.