Funks Grove, |
(Bubble Window, 2000)
I love reviewing, both for the opportunity to hear wonderful music that I'd likely never encounter otherwise, and the chance to share it with others. Albuminium Blue is a perfect example. On it, Funks Grove blends musical traditions from folk to funk into an idiosyncratic mix of lovely and intriguing songs.
Funks Grove is one of the few groups to blend funk with folk, and it works so well that I wonder why it's rare. Scott Keever's grooving bass adds an unusual feel, especially when it's accompanied by Eric Pedrotty's flexible pennywhistle. These are both integral parts of the songs, not gimmicky add-ons, and that integration gives the music its fresh and exciting sound. The song order has been carefully thought out and adds to Albuminium Blue's effectiveness.
"Players" and "Players' Reprise" bracket most of the album with a strong funk beat and a pennywhistle that reminds me of Jethro Tull's flute. "One Touch (One Time)" is slower but has a similar feel, adding excellent percussion and a bit of scat singing. "Where There's Smoke" takes cliches and twists them into pointed lyrics, driven home by a funk sound with gospel elements. "Ashes Ashes" has a strong funk bass line, complemented by the guitar, vocals and the delightful pennywhistle, here understated.
"Full Moon A.M." features mellow and evocative vocals and pennywhistle, spiced with percussion acting almost as a counterpoint. The moon-related lyrics include pieces from "Hey Diddle Diddle," nicely worked in. "Her" is a lovely hymn to the goddess, more in an appreciative than a worshipping vein.
"Corde Vox (Heart's Voice)" begins with a bass line that acts as the song's spine as the music bends and flows around it.
"(Everything Else Is) Riding Backward" and "Here & Now" are the songs on this album closest to what we expect when we hear the term "modern folk." The Funks Grove musicians' settings for them makes them stand out, especially the supple vocals in the first and the powerful bass in the second. "Jasmine Wind" is also in some ways similar to songs one might hear on the radio, but its funk elements make it stand out.
"Northwest Passage," the album's only cover, is the album's final song, outside the "Players" brackets. It's a strong and effective a cappella version of the Stan Rogers classic.
I wish Funks Grove had included lyrics in their liner. I loved all other aspects of the package itself: the art is evocative but leaves the text easily read; the interior of the liner is done as a collage of items relating to the songs, with a few words about each written on them; and the CD itself is delightful, with the song titles (and one word describing each song) sprinkled over it.
I love this album and recommend it highly. It will particularly appeal to those who like modern folk traditions and a unique voice, and those who enjoy music that's positive and not the least bit bland. I'm looking forward to hearing more of Funks Grove's music, and I hope it become easier to find so more people can hear it!
[ by Amanda Fisher ]