As the saying goes, the more the merrier. This saying especially holds true if you’re in a soul, funk and blues inspired jam band. These attributes belong to the seven piece Melbourne Australia outfit Crayon King. The band has recently released their debut five-song EP entitled Strange Love. Though the title may hint at otherwise, Strange Love isn’t very strange at all. In fact it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a band inspired by funk and soul. There are funky guitar riffs, the likes of a mellowed out Carlos Santana, rollicking bass thumps, jazzy and funky soul infused organ, and enough brass and percussion to keep it all on the right track.
Collaborating with seven different people is no easy task thoug, and so the band had to elect a leader for direction. That task of keeping everyone on track came down to drummer James Webster who allowed each of the bands members to find their own space for their sound. One thing I believe helped most with the bands recording of the Strange Love EP was that it was all recorded live in a large room and was later touched up with overdubs before being mixed and mastered.
This live recording becomes evident both in sound and feel from the very beginning of Strange Love, as the first track “I’m Gone” gets the EP going. Right from the start the feel is right with organ keys bouncing away in the background, the bass and guitars rippling and banging, and the horns coming in to add depth and that well displayed funk that only the brass can add. Lead singer and principal songwriter Scott Nelson also gets the vocal grooves off to a good start. His vocals have a warmth to them of the kind that aren’t trying too hard to overdo the soul singers voice, and in this way their naturalness becomes instrumental in fitting into the overall feel of the band. But Nelson isn’t the only one who can take credit for the vocals, as one can hear over the course of several of the tracks a good amount of backing vocal harmonies that add so much, so subtly to each song they appear on.
Though soul and funk inspired, Crayon King didn’t forget how to rock either as is evidenced by the rocking and epic sounding guitar solo near the end of the track “Black Pole.” Even more so is best and most promising song on the record “Can’t Help,” a poppy jam session which recalls at turns such bands as Supergrass and Belle and Sebastian with its funky and rollicking bass, horn and organ trio, along with precisely placed hooks and backing vocals. The EP closes with the title track; a sprawling seven-plus-minute jazzy and mild meld of soft horns and drums, along with bits of feedback.
With the release of Strange Love, Crayon King have launched a solid soul EP out into the world, one that deserves attention from anyone looking for some straightforward good old fashioned pop influenced soul and funk to both chill and dance to.
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