Smoove & Turrell - Crown Posada (Jalapeno Records)
Add Date: 10/25
Focus Tracks: 1, 2, 4, & 7
FCC: 6 (Clean Edit Available)
Formats: College & Triple A
Artist Info: With the release of fourth album Crown Posada, Smoove & Turrell cement their position as one of the UK’s most exceptional soul acts with their innate ability to deliver hard times social commentary in a dancefloor friendly medium.
Proudly working class as a band - this album celebrates love, life, politics and the lows and the highs of growing up and raising families in the North East of England.
Gritty and powerful, the band make no attempt to sound or look like anyone else – not for them the sharp suits and trumpet twirls of some of their peers.
Instead you get a wildly talented and vital crew of larger than life Geordie lads taking their rightful place on the international soul scene having already become figureheads within the UK.
For those that don’t know – the band and the name came about by the joining of forces between DJ/ Producer Smoove and singer John Turrell. A chance introduction and a plan to do one record together quickly grew into a band that has played massive festival stages worldwide and become one of the UK’s most loved soul acts.
New album Crown Posada draws a wide array of influences from the electronic acts they grew up with as well as the old soul greats with the vocal delivery on certain tracks owing as much to Scott Walker as it does to James Brown.
The album kicks off with upbeat stomper "You Could’ve Been A Lady." Smoove & Turrell have a history of including a cover on their albums from Yazoo to Michael Jackson there have been some classics. Normally they are placed a little further down the tracklist but "You Could’ve Been A Lady" was such a winner it had to be the album opener. A cover of a lesser known record by Brit funk dons Hot Chocolate it’s an out and out party track with a groove that doesn’t quit and the boys do it justice with their rework pulling out all the stops.
"No Point In Trying" is a summer playlist smash with the smooth guitar chops reminiscent of Nile Rogers and a bassline with more funk that Bootsy Collins’ old shoes. Over the disco beats courtesy of drummer Lloyd Croft and producer Smoove, the chorus soars with John’s lyrics pleading with his lover trying to put their relationship back on track.
Next up is "Given It All" – an upbeat track driven by angular guitars and a distorted bass riding a heavy backbeat provided by Smoove. It’s a showcase for the type of singalong vocals the boys are synonymous with over the dynamic modern-yet-retro blend of indie, pop, electronica and soul sound.
Changing the mood is the Electro and Disco influenced "50 Days of Winter" - a lyrically dark song about depression but with a chorus melody that could raise any spirits and a throbbing bassline that New Order would be proud of. Keyboardist - Mike Porter’s classic analogue synth collection is put to good use as John Turrell pours his heart out over the infectious groove.
Smoove is known for his DJ skills and "Now That The Love Has Gone" flirts with his classic Hip Hop style of sirens and drum breaks while the band brings diverse Rock, Soul, Disco and Pop licks into the mix. Turrell provides a social commentary on the isolation and difficulties of the working classes as the divide between the rich and poor expands.
"Glue Bag Flags" is a throwback to their childhoods playing in the woods and finding the discarded bags of the local glue aficionados and thinking they would make good decorations for their play fort. The expressions of their parents when they discovered the “flags’ on their forts were something special to behold. The track is suitably playful for such subject matter with a chorus that stays with you as you flip the LP at the end of the A side.
Kicking off the B side (for the vinyl aficionados amongst you) "Fight On" is a soul track that could only have been written by this band. Lyrically telling the tale of a famous North East wrestling Champion, it’s a gritty story of how even heroes struggle to survive in modern Britain. Set against one of the catchiest riffs on the album with an unapologetic strings-and-all disco vibe it’s a sure-fire future fan favourite.
Title track "Crown Posada" is an ode to one of Newcastles most historic and iconic watering holes - a place that has had a massive effect on the boys. Their homage is a beautiful fusion of exotica and jazz/funk complete with elegant string lines, relaxing reverb soaked backing vocals and a slick groove throughout. A track you could get lost in and a well worthy title track for the album.
Never ones to shy away from a good old fashioned ballad, the penultimate track – "Glass" is a beautiful example of the bands emotional side. Andy Champion’s piano and a moving cello line exquisitely accompanies John’s soulful reflection on the fragile nature of relationships in a track that provides a perfect balance to the collection.
Hip Hop-esque beats adorn the verses of "Slave To The Blues" while the funky synchronized guitar and bass combo riff up and down the scales. Smoove’s production characteristics are all over this jam while Turrell’s politically edged vocals come to life in his distinct Soul style.
Jazz heads will love "New Jerusalem", the albums closer with its lightning quick colourful guitar intro over dreamy bluesy synth chords and latin inspired shuffling drums. It’s an update of the famous old hymn adopted by England relevant for today’s society and when the bass kicks in with the funky line under the vocals lamenting the seeming loss of one’s country, the song goes up another notch. Phaser drenched pads and the jazz licks flit around the track as the moving lyrics subside to just backing vocals of the refrain – “where are you?”