Jalapeno Records have just released Smoove & Turrell’s new album, Crown Posada, and funk me it’s good. The duo’s latest outing is a charming mix of genres, from funk to hip-hop, this album offers a variety in sound but consistency in its quality. With this being the bands fourth record, it comes as no surprise that they have grown confidently over the years and showcase this with their catchy hooks and satisfying build-ups. They make funk and soul a contemporary sound, without losing their old school vibe, and the album feels somewhat live because the music is updated but not overproduced. John ‘Smoove’ Watson, whose moniker is indisputably cool, creates music here that sounds unique yet familiar, with John Turrell’s smooth but expressive vocals.
The album opens with a cover of Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Could’ve Been a Lady’, I am a big fan of Hot Chocolate and it always worries me when a band I like cover a song I also love, but there is nothing to worry about here. Dare I say it, this version is better than the original song, the duo turn it into a funky anthemic banger; the composition of this song reminds me of the way Primal Scream use repetition and layers to build-up a tune. Whilst this is my personal favourite track on the album, the rest of the songs just keep giving you melodies and riffs that make you want to groove and sing along, they would go down a storm at any festival (I just keep wanting to chant NA NA NA NA NA OH YEEEEEAH). The second track ‘No Point in Trying’ is a funky soul number that tells the story of a man giving up on a relationship, Turrell sings ‘we cannot keep it together’ with such an emotive voice that emulates those of northern soul singers from the 60s, think Al Green getting pumped up. In ‘Given it All’ guitarist Lloyd Wright gets a cracking solo which sounds much like it’s happening live, not like a produced recording; Wright sounds great, along with bassist Andy Champion and keyboardist Mike Porter. The musicians really deserve credit here because they help this album to sound tight, and they all get some well-earned solos in a few of the songs.
The title track ‘Crown Posada’ and ‘Slave to the Blues’ both have a jazzy hip-hop feel and wouldn’t seem out of place in a neo-Blaxploitation film or TV series like Marvel’s Luke Cage; I would not be surprised if someone sampled these as hip-hop backing tracks. A standout track on the album is ‘Now That Love Has Gone’ which sounds like rock funk, surprisingly reminiscent of some of Red Hot Chili Peppers funkier tracks. However, the break in the middle of the song is a delicious build-up that’s disco-like and has some nicely used backing vocals. Turrell co-writes all of these lyrics, which are sometimes quite funny, such as in ‘Glue Bag Flags’ when he declares ‘everybody dancing to the same old shit'. The lyrics fit perfectly with Smoove’s rhythmic tunes, forming an album full of superb songs that will make any listener want to see them played live. The record sleeve's artwork, created by graphic designer Jimmy Turrell, contains some really cool retro images and colours, along with some nice art on the actual vinyl labels themselves. John Turrell sings ‘spending money is fun’, well it certainly is when it’s spent on an album as fine and funky as this.