When you think of soul music or funk, there is a good chance you think of gasoline fried chicken, ice-cold beer and sweat in a humid juke joint colored by a Wurlitzer possibly in Memphis or New Orleans.
It is unlikely the misty maritime province of Prince Edward Island, off the coast of New Brunswick or Nova Scotia comes to mind. That is not to suggest that denizens of cold, rainy out of the way places cannot bring the heat, as we are reminded of The Beatles and their native Liverpool or The Rolling Stones, both of whom we were reminded of while listening to Spencer Soloduka & The Tearaways self-titled debut Spencer Soloduka & The Tearaways, along with funk forebears like Sam Cooke and James Brown.
Spencer Solduka & The Tearaways is a big band comprised of nine members, featuring a full, muscular horn section; tinkling, singing electric keys; deep fried wah guitar; and soulful background vocals. Much of Spencer Soloduka & The Tearaways debut album stands up next to classics of the genre - think Exile On Main Street-era Stones, or "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" James Brown, with knockout horn arrangements and stomping beats.
Spencer Soloduka & The Tearaways only falter when they begin to fall into soul impostor territory, on "Belltower" and "Supernatural" when the hot sax melts down into a smooth jazz puddle and Spencer Soloduka goes from David Ruffin to David Draiman, becoming the follower rather than followed. His voice features real heat, real soul and doesn't need to succumb to radio conventions, and is in danger of alienating potential fans in the process.
However, when the band's hot, they're on fire, and it is clear and bloody obvious the band knows good and well what they're doing, as you can hear on album opener "Pray For Me" and album closer "Reachin' Out." Anyone that's gotten into some of the recent soul resurgence, like Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings or has burned out their original Motown LPs will find much to rejoice about here.
Residents of Prince Edward Island may need the funk more than the deep south; protection against long, cold, dark nights and whiteout blizzards. They have to work at it. If you're looking for a warm blanket, and some fuzzy warbles, to get through the latter half of winter, look no further!
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