You will have heard her voice this summer but some of you may not know her by name: Kylie Auldist is the unsung hero of Kungs’ remix of ‘This Girl’ by Cookin’ On 3 Burners, which she features on. In comparison with her previous album and work with bands like The Bamboos, Auldist is exhibiting a new sound on Family Tree with the London-based Freestyle Records label.
As the title of the first track suggests, it is SENSATIONAL! I felt like I had found the holy grail when I heard this one, as I'm really feeling the 80s funk sound at the moment and she is nailing it here. Think Booker Newbury III’s ‘Love Town’, Luther Vandross and Jocelyn Brown - if you are already familiar with this stuff you will have some kind of idea of the sheer fabulousness that this album evokes. The thing I love about this genre is the overriding simplicity of the vocal lines and catchy themes in the accompaniment, decorated by complex, tasteful subtleties - this album demonstrates production at its most lavish, yet most sensitive. Auldists’ voice is one of the crowning features - and it's a force to be reckoned with. Besides its power and clarity, she is clearly conscious of her voice as an instrument; it does the music justice, but at the same time, you feel like she’s talking to you and that the lyrics are coming from her. This woman knows what she’s doing, and arguably this spirit of liberation and independence is reflected in the mood of the songs.
The title track ‘Family Tree’ is a superfunky up-tempo number, featuring naughty little riffs from the horn section which reminded me of Delegation’s album Eau de Vie, while ‘Too Easy’ and ‘Look Away' are a little slower by contrast - there is a real art to writing a song with a relaxed tempo that still make you want to move. These are the ones that you strut down the street to, and tracks like that complete an album. The familiarity of the style of this album is unmistakeable, and the influences are clear, but songs like ‘Saturday Night’ (in spite of the name) are gloriously unpredictable yet satisfying, with sexy key changes and contrasting sections. Around 02:36 it goes into an awesome section with a badass saxophone solo, not unlike the vibe of Bowie's ‘Young Americans’ - what a treat! Naturally this song fulfills the desired effect, which is to prep you for a night of throwing some serious shapes.
Scratch that, the whole damn album makes me want to put on a slinky white dress, curl my hair and go party somewhere tropical with palm trees. Or ideally jump in a time-machine back to a nightclub in the 80s. It is just sublime and totally encapsulates what I love about 80s funk: confident, punchy and soulful, but produced in a way that is so relevant to current themes in contemporary music. I am happy to report that Family Tree was awarded best album in the soul, funk, R‘n’B or gospel category in the The Age Music Victoria Awards this week - a ceremony held in Melbourne, where Auldist resides - an indication that this excellence is being recognised. You can hear the album on Spotify and it is available to buy on Bandcamp - an undisputedly worthwhile listen for those who love to boogie and the ideal playlist for NYE.