TotW: funk’n’soul from unexpected places

It’s been a wee while since my last Track of the Week, so here’s a bonus edition with two tracks sharing a common theme, both of which need a little bit of YouTube love.

First up – and straight outta Nashville – is DeRobert and the Half-Truths. DeRobert Adams has been around for a decade or more although the second of his two full albums was as far back as 2013. Nashville is the home of country music (and an echo here back to my first Track of the Week) – but DeRobert and his band are less stetson hats and denim jackets and boots with tassels as committed funkateers. Here, a pulsing bass line, chanking guitars and insistent horns lay down the hooks for DeRobert’s warm, soulful voice to warn of the dangers of too close an association with people living somewhat on the edge and who may put good things at risk. While setting the casual listener rather out of their comfort zone resulting from a simple word association with Nashville, Tennessee’s state capital is far more these days than Music City alone and seems to have accommodated a few tips and tricks from its sister down Route 40 to the south-west. Written and produced by the splendidly on-message Nick DeVan, the Half-Truther who also plays drums and keys on ‘Thievin’ & Robbin”, this is a slice of funk’n’soul so timeless you’ll swear you’ve heard it once before somewhere, probably on that old LW radio, while nevertheless retaining a modern appeal.

DeRobert’s Bandcamp, when you’ve pumped up the YT plays enough, is right here although access to the track, released on 11 June, is via the label’s own page. DeRobert and the Half-Truths’ 100 Yard Dash – a seven-track LP which doesn’t feature ‘Thievin’ & Robbin” – was released a week earlier on 4 June.

And if the sound itself is not enough of an apparent fish out of water, the label which has licensed the track, Golden Rules, is straight outta Leipzig. Yes, Leipzig. Meanwhile Golden Rules – Bringing Soul Back to the People – has been releasing a regular, bi-weekly stream of contemporary, yet retro, tracks from the funk’n’soul scene, including from Hamburg’s Mighty Mocambos, ahead of a summer release pulling together the choicest bits. Well worth keeping an eye on.

Turning next a little further to the north-east, the Amazin’ Five are a youthful music collective straight outta Moscow. With roles in other bands and as DJs, the Amazin’ Five (who may not actually be five in number) seem to be a bit of a pick-up band for when live dates come a-calling and they don’t even have their own webpage – they do have FB and IG pages – but you can find a tiny bit more about them via the band’s page on the WillWork4Funk agency website. The band members’ love of retro soul with a contemporary feel – as well as, apparently, jazz, reggae, hip hop and blues – is undeniable, even if none of them look as though they were born much before the turn of the century, and in vocalist Olesia they have a hard-working, vibrant focal point who commands your attention.

Only With You‘ couldn’t any more be the sound of summer if it slipped a long, tall colourful drink into your hand while sitting you down by the sea in front of a setting sun casting golden light all around while whispering promises into your ear about the evening to come. Gently chiming guitars, bongos, laid-back stabs of horns, strings straight from the Al Green songbook and a dreamy Fender Rhodes solo, are topped off by Olesia’s confident, yet non-assertive, assuring vocal. Drifting skywards straight into that warm glow, ‘Only With You’ also has an English language vocal set against the same music track, but I’m linking here to ‘Gotova vzletet’/’готова взлетет’, the original language version. You’ll believe that Russian can be the language of love.

‘Only With You’ was released on 25 June and, while the Amazin’ Five have no Bandcamp of their own, you can pick it up via Tramp Records’s page. The English language version is the B-side. Or the AA-side. Either way you know what to do, people. Keep the faith.

Both tracks, by the way, were heard recently on DJ Ritu’s A World in London; new shows released every Wednesday right the way through lockdown (and beyond).

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