Finland isn’t the sort of place you’d associate with raw soul a funk but the Nordic country is home to soul/funk combo CHICKEN GRASS. The band have been in business for 25 years peddling their own take on what they callAfro-American rhythm music: funk, soul, hip hop and jazz.”

Right now the band line up like this – Tapio Wiik (voc, keys), Janne Valppu (bass), Mikko Räisänen (guitar), Olli Tuomainen (sax, flute) and Janne Mathlin (drums) and you can sample  what they offer via their current eponymous album.

The 9 track long player was recorded live in Philophon studio in Berlin with Grammy awarded producer Max Weissenfeldt (Poets Of The Rhythm / Dr.John). Chicken Grass wanted to make an album that sounded like the old classics of the 60s and 70s, which meant recording it live without any loops or samples and of course using vintage gear.

The album opens with the loose-limbed funk of ‘Snakebites’ which features a feisty vocal from Princess Shaw who the band drafted in from New Orleans. The good Princess is also at the mic for ‘Sister Rosetta’s Train’ – based loosely on gospel icon Rosetta Tharpe’s  own ‘This Train’ with lyrical references  to Curtis Mayfield’s ‘People Get Ready’. By now you should be working out where Chicken Grass are coming from.

Elsewhere there’s shades of James Brown on ‘Have A Break’, homage to P Funk via ‘Woman’, ‘Street Haze’ could be best described as “blue-eyed soul”  while ‘Right Face’ moves the music in the direction of blaxploitation. Why there’s even a go at dub (‘Jailbird’)!

Yes- plenty of variety and every track delivered with honesty, belief  and passion – out now