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MALTED MILK (below) is a French soul, blues and funk band marshalled by singer/vocalist Arnaud Fradin. Working out of Nantes, the band have been something of an institution on the French soul scene for 25 years. We first heard of them back in 2015 when they worked with the wonderful Toni Green on an album called ‘Revival’ which featured splendid covers of things like  Ann Peeble’s ‘Slipped, Tripped And Fell In Love’ which showed where the band and Ms Green were coming from. Indeed Monsieur F has always been  clear that Malted Milk’s soul was set deep  down in Memphis though he also has a penchant for the funk of James Brown, the grit of rural blues and the work of someone called Bob Dylan.

Hear all those flavours and a lot more besides on Malted Milk’s new album, ‘1975’. That  title is a reference to the year in which Arnaud was born  and he tells us that the lyrics of the songs on the set reflect his mood and state of mind as reflects not just on his life’s journey, but also on the future, the human condition in a world that is increasingly devoid of love and increasingly devoid of love and brotherhood. Deep stuff.

The eight tracker though isn’t a sombre affair. In places it’s uplifting and always intriguing. The track that will grab the soul crowd’s immediate attention is the light, crisp and catchy ‘Better Now’ – shades of the dear Staples Singers. There’s a grittier, more “southern” feel on ‘A Little Bit Of Soul’ while ‘I’m Possible’ is loose and funky. Blues? ‘King Without A Crown’ is a slow, blues-tinged meander  while ‘Set Me Free’ combines a bluesy feel with down-home funk. ‘1975’, the opening track, delivers a West Coast vibe but the soul crowd might find ‘Love For Yourself’ just a little too rocky to satisfy. It does, though, add to the musical  cocktail that is ‘1975’ – which is good to go right now.

Oh and that name -Malted Milk? It all goes way back to 1996 when Arnaud Fradin and harmonica player Emmanuel Frangeul joined forces to celebrate their shared passion for the Southern and rural blues of people like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Skip James and Robert Johnson. ‘Malted Milk’ was/is the title of one of Johnson’s songs! Thus Malted Milk was born – now you know!