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Published: 2016/07/22
by Wesley Hodges

The New Mastersounds
The Nashville Session

British retro soul-funk powerhouse quartet The New Mastersounds chase the lightning-in-a-bottle approach on The Nashville Session, a single-take performance cut live to tape in front of a small (and inaudible) studio audience. The release is only available as a limited edition vinyl of 1,000. The approach allows the quartet to settle into an airtight funktet sound that’s as free as ever—zipping through mostly older tunes from their early days, an alternate take on the title track from last year’s Made for Pleasure and a lone cover. An overarching vintage sonic texture makes these freewheeling sounds breathe as if they were baked under a set of warm stage lights. Organ runs, riffs and drum fills bubble across the channels. Eddie Roberts’ slick and burning guitar vicissitudes on “Coming Up Roses” cut like a knife, exuding an unflappable control and adventurous nature that his bandmates continue to ably match throughout the record. “The Minx” is a thick and loose funk jam that reminds the listener of the sheer joy that a live New Mastersounds gig can engender in an audience. Organ player Joe Tatton flexes his muscles, weaving a melodically complex tapestry on “Carrot Juice” and leading a charge with Roberts, Pete Shand and Simon Allen following through in lockstep. The record exudes confidence, feels raw and unfettered, yet, despite being cut live, has nary a lack in overall polish. A late-record highlight is a reading of Grant Green’s arrangement of James Brown’s “In the Middle,” the climax of this essential introduction to The New Mastersounds.

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