...the group display a rootsy but progressive approach.
Jack Smith 2002
On this, their second album, Leed's The New Mastersounds expand upon their pure funk template to include a subtler spectrum of textures. The usual blistering funk is still there, but is augemented by a more relaxed jazz/soul approach.
The opener, "This Ain't Work", is classic Mastersounds, but is then followed by the breezy "Your Love Is Mine", featuring the vocals of the sublime Corinne Bailey Rae. Her approach is reminiscent of Minnie Riperton's soul jazz sound of the early 1970s. This gentle, melodic piece is followed by "Cant Hold Me Down" - a track that punches into the mighty southern funk territory of The Meters.
1960's groovy psychadelia is evoked on "Better Off Dead", guitarist Eddie Roberts' jangling sitar lines float across the top of the rhythm section - prompting recollections of Dave Pikes' 'Mathar'. It's good to hear Roberts playing so many different styles, reminding everyone that whacking out serious funk isnt the only thing he does tastefully well.
The jazz boogaloo rears its well worn head on "Coming Up Roses", but it is beautifully counter balanced by the folky atmosphere of "Barca". The latter evokes the sounds of Ben Sidran and the great, but short lived, jazz/folk crossover scene.
Keysman Bob Birch provides his usual sterling work on the Hammond, as well as stretching out on synthesizer, acoustic and electric piano.
The general intention on "Be Yourself" appears to put a little daylight between the band and the full on deep funk scene . In terms of sounds and song writing, the group display a rootsy but progressive approach that should ensure that they ,and their audience, stay challenged, refreshed & interested.