By Sarah Moore
Somewhere between unique funk licks and forward gospel rests the latest disc from bass powerhouse Oteil and the Peacemakers. Amidst instantly catching chord progressions, the band delivers a soulful, fulfilling message. Yet the spiritual message contained on the album does not ostracize listeners from other faiths or the skeptical. While Oteil and the others possess a matter-of-fact, deep understanding of their spirituality, they do not let their message overpower the music. The music flows, and the soulful vibe merely adds to their credibility.
Immediately from track one, the album packs a heavy punch. Paul Henson steps up as the lead singer when Oteil is not scatting along with his bass, and “Hit the Hay” exhibits Henson’s range and unique sense of timing. While on one hand his voice reminds me of a South Park character, I soon become ensconced in his melodies. His subtle, dulcet intonation fits perfectly with the arrangement of the disc.
The entire disc plays without skipping a beat or begging me to skip a track. Chris Fryar’s drumming along with Oteil’s famous sense of low-end timing combine to form a molten rapport. In my initial hearing, I realize that some of these selections have been in the Peacemakers’ arsenal for live performances in early 2005. Listening to these songs as recorded pieces, however, shines a unique light on what I have already heard. The Peacemakers know how to keep things different and new.
The band also includes take-no-shit relationship realizations such as “Pull Together” and “Rooster.” In particular, “Silverback” throws a few kinks into the standard chain of funk-rock. Guitarist Mark Kimbrell dares the listener to sit still. Go ahead and try, you will fail. Not only does he shred some solos, he mixes his sound up along with keyboardist Matt Slocum. Edgy dissonance plays hopscotch with fluid concordance in “Tubby,” as Hammond whammy sounds skip and trot along with Oteil’s signature bass lines. Soft and sweet guitar strokes finish out the album on Kimbrell’s rendition of the old standard “Doxology.” The inclusion of this subtle piece simply puts the icing and finishing touches on an already flawless disc.
While at first song titles such as “Blue Eyed Savior” and “Church Groove” may intimidate many listeners, the selections prove to be a thorough mix serving as the pinnacle of blues and funk-man-ship. The Peacemakers just show that their excitement in their spirituality takes them to a new level musically. While their prior releases have rung out with a smooth jazz vibe, The Peacemakers show that this album steps things up a few notches. They have found their groove with this consistent masterpiece.
JamBase | Virginia
Go See Live Music!