Deliciously smooth funk, soul and jazz always has been The New Mastersounds’ jam. The band’s exceptional talent and vacuum-tight cohesion make it a rare breed, exemplified by its latest album, “The Nashville Session.”
Having just come off the road from its U.S. tour in the winter of 2015, the band slipped into Nashville’s Welcome To 1979 studio to record a one-of a-kind session. The energy from the tour fresh in their fingers, Eddie Roberts (guitar), Simon Allen (drums), Pete Shand (bass) and Joe Tatton (organ) laid down a special career-spanning set of 10 songs that ooze rhythm like nobody’s business. In a video that accompanies press materials for the release, you see the small, clean studio with the band lined out next to each other — Roberts in a chair, headphones on, tuning into the music and tuning out the world; you’ll have the same feeling.
The New Mastersounds are clean in tone and sharp in execution but loose in style and charmingly fun, which is an intoxicating combination easy to indulge. “One Night Brown” is the first shot of the night with flirtatious licks from Roberts and cheeky dabblings from Tatton. Hearing Roberts glide over the frets on “102%” and lead the charge on a juicy take of James Brown’s “In The Middle” is all the more impressive when you know he is chilling on a stool as cool as the other side of the pillow. But he’s one of four of the coolest cats from Leeds, UK, and the laid-back skill of Roberts along with Tatton, Shand and Allen is why their sound so effortlessly surges through your head, shoulders, knees and toes.
The sound quality on the recording allows for the full color of the drums, organ, bass and guitar to saturate your soul. You can actually hear the individual organ notes completely fade away into the studio on “Vandenburg Suite.” The snare cracks, the guitar cuts, and the bass pops as crisply as they can, thanks in large part to the fact the songs were mixed down into quarter-inch stereo and cut directly to vinyl. There is a reason such recording techniques have regained traction in the last decade or so. “The Nashville Session” shows why, because the quality is so good it almost becomes a fifth member of the band.
If there is one song the band can hang its hat on it is the mesmerizing “Drop It Down.” The song is all in the name, a ghostly funk number that slowly emanates from an unshakable beat by Allen and murky blasts of voodoo from the rest of the guys. The rhythm hits you instantly and you go sidewinding along with it. And once Tatton floats that beautifully funky organ hook into your ears the rest is a blissful blur. Shand, Roberts and Allen do a fabulous job of supporting their brother with light and tasteful plants that let Tatton levitate and do his thing.
“The Nashville Session” is set to only be released on 1,000 copies of vinyl, making this recording a very prized piece of Mastersounds history. If you don’t own a record player, get one — grab one of the few copies of “The Nashville Session” and listen to it exactly how it was intended. Even if it’s your only record, you’ll want to replay it for days to come.
- The New Mastersounds
“The Nashville Session”
Release: April 22, 2016 (1,000 vinyl copies only)
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- The Nashville Session
1. One Note Brown
2. Coming Up Roses
3. Burnt Back
4. Drop It Down
5. The Minx
7. Carrot Juice
8. Vandenburg Suite
9. Made For Pleasure
10. In The Middle
- *Appearing nearby: High Sierra Music Festival, June 30-July 3*
- On Tour
4/29-4/30 – New Orleans, LA – Joy Theatre
5/4 – Lexington, KY – Cosmic Charlies
5/5 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom *
5/6 – Columbus, OH – Park Street Saloon *
5/7 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In *
5/27-5/29 – Chillicothe, IL – Summer Camp
6/2-6/5 – Hunter, NY – Mountain Jam
6/23-6/26 – Rothbury, MI – Electric Forest
*6/30-7/3 – Quincy, CA – High Sierra Music Festival*
8/5-8/7 – Loveland, CO – Arise Music Festival