Butcher Brown Rework Ronnie Laws Classic for New Single
For the first single off their forthcoming album, Virginia-based five-piece Butcher Brown have covered the classic 1975 cut Tidal Wave, originally featured on Ronnie Laws’ jazz-funk LP for Blue Note Records, Pressure Sensitive. The recording was premiered on Gilles Peterson’s 6Music show at the weekend and is streaming now on all major platforms.
Staying true to the original tempo and feel, keys player DJ Harrison lays down the Solina string ensemble drone beneath cool Fender rhodes changes, while saxophonist Marcus Tinney takes on Laws’ lead riff with consummate ease. The key difference comes with drummer Corey Fonville taking the groove in a hip-hop direction, playing a gorgeously gritty boom bap pattern that references the track’s importance to crate diggers. The track was famously sampled on Black Moon’s ‘93 cut Who Got Da Props, and by the loop digga supreme on his 2000 Quasimodo album.
The band call the cut “a nod to the OGs Ronnie Laws and Black Moon,” adding that their flip is “our example of how Jazz and Rap come from the same soul.” Check out the Butcher Brown version below and get lost in the WhoSampled? web here.
Repeat Listen: Nadia Reid – Out of my Province
Judging purely by the catalog of recordings that have emerged from it, it seems fair that Spacebomb studios in Richmond, VA, be placed upon the same list of hallowed spaces as Daptone’s ‘house of soul’ in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and the great Muscle Shoals facility at 3614 Jackson Highway. Not giant studios where orchestras record symphonies and film scores, but modest, mid-sized spaces, where a tight-knit house band flourish, surrounded by a beautiful range of instruments and analog gear, inspiring aesthetics, and just as inspiring a crew to keep things ticking over nicely.
Nadia Reid’s decision to record there has proven to be an inspired one! Away from home, reflecting upon her experience as a travelling artist, she has placed her trust in the house group of Cameron Ralston (electric and upright bass), Brian Wolfe (drums) Daniel Clarke (organ, piano, keys), and producer/arranged Trey Pollard, who have in turn brought audible love and musicality to her candid, homespun songs, embellishing her remarkable voice while ensuring it is the unmistakable lead element of the project.
It’s evident from the first line of the opening cut, All of My Love, the direction that Out of my Province would take. Tense, weighty open guitar chords, distant suitcase keys and a subtle drum beat are all that reinforce Reid’s voice, as she spins an ostensibly honest tale about love and interaction. Her gorgeous vibrato, clear enunciation, and melodic swooping (the latter a technique also expertly used by her friend and contemporary, Aldous Harding,) are at once captivating, indicating that we’re here to listen to her words and melodies above all else.
Each song builds upon trusty open guitar chords, but is subtly and cleverly elevated by each arrangement. An ace horn section give second cut High & Lonely an umph that registers right to your core, while over the Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door-esque changes of Oh Canada, sweet Wurlitzer riffs, horn swells and electric guitar lines bring balance and depth to the structure.
The wonderfully compact string sound present on Matthew E. White’s Outer Face epic Hot Hot Hot is a presence too on Heart to Ride — where gentle acoustic guitar, muted electric bass and a string arrangement are all that fill the soundstage. Get the Devil Out, the album’s closing cut, is one of Reid’s most impactful pieces of writing and a fine way to finish this purposeful ten-track collection. The realisations she makes in the chorus: “I am only one woman, you are only one man”… “I tried to find religion, I am right as I am”, feel especially profound at this juncture in the record, as her experiences come sharply into focus.
A portrait of Reid has adorned each of her three album covers thus far, and that this one is the most vibrant shot, capturing Reid looking calm and determined, is a fine reflection of the music it represents. Reid sounds right at home in Virginia, despite being thousands of miles from hers.
New Sounds and Visuals
Following their stunning sell-out show at Gorilla earlier this year, KOKOROKO have dropped a brand new cut entitled Carry Me Home. Inspired by fellow artist Dele Sosimi, the vibrant tune has a propulsive bass line, shuffling drum beat, and sweet horn lines, channeling the energy of a night at the Afrika Shrine, but with slique contemporary production value. Check out the blissful tune below and catch KOKOROKO’s Sheila Maurice-Grey out on the road with SEED ensemble this month!
Almost fifty years on from their initial meeting, the love shared by Memphis Music Hall of Fame inductees Don Bryantand Ann Peebles is still being celebrated in song. With intensity, warmth and soul, Bryant sings on his new cut, Your Love Is to Blame: “You give me love instead of promises, you give me truth instead of lies, you give me light when there is darkness, you give me sunshine instead of cloudy skies.” Check out his forthcoming album, released on 8th May, here.
The new video for Ama Lou’s Far Out is an intimate, lo-fi portrait from Marzlama Films, capturing the artist in conversation during a sitting. Its simplicity is the perfect complement to the sparsely arranged piano ballad, drawing the attention toward her essential voice.
The Roving Cowboy / Avarguli (阿瓦尔古丽) is a remarkable collaborative track from Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn, lifted from their forthcoming eponymous album for the Smithsonian Folkways label. It hears their guzheng and banjo playing beautifully interweaving, as they exchange verses — using English and Chinese dialects — eventually arriving at a jaw-dropping harmony section. The accompanying video, with its still, winter feel, captures the detail of both musicians’ techniques, as well as artistic, slow-motion shots of a majestic horse and its handler.
In his new track $$$, Runkus bemoans the distribution of wealth and the lack of healthcare provisions for the poor over a hard, string-laden Wizical beat. The video, shot in the 3 East district of his native Portmore, sees he and his peers vibing to the tune, with several people miming to the ‘money’ hook.