MAMA’S GUN: Routes To Riches (Label: Candelion)

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MAMA'S GUN: Routes To Riches

Mama’s Gun – named we presume after Erykah Badu’s album – are a UK band who aspire to be 21st century funksters. But funk, of course, is all things to all people and the music the Gunners peddle isn’t the classic funk of James Brown, Dyke and the Blazers, Mighty Hannibal or indeed any of the great soul names of the golden age. Indeed the music on ‘Routes To Riches’ is so varied it defies simple and trite categorization. Yes, there is a kind of funk in there, but there’s lots more besides. Let’s start, though, with their take on funk. The opener, ‘House On A Hill’ has a loose and bumpy bass line that gives the tune a funk undertow, ‘Bitch’ is an off the wall cut that owes its funkiness to the Clinton (George, not Bill!) take on the genre while ‘Big Betty’ is based (not just in name) around Ram Jam’s pop-funk hit ‘Black Betty’. Elsewhere there’s guitar-riffing rock in ‘Psycho Territory’, anthemic pop in ‘You Are The Music’, pure pop à la Busted/McFly on ‘Finger On It’, a sixties pastiche in ‘Chasing Down Shadows’, a loose novelty that is ‘Rico’, a grown-up pop song in ‘Let’s Find Way (fans of Hall and Oates and Simply Red will like this one) and a loping ‘Miracle’. That leaves just one cut – the album’s clear standout by longer than a long country mile – ‘Pots Of Gold’. The track is one of the sweetest soul ballads you’ll hear all year and makes serious investigation a must for those who got off on Robin Thicke and Mayer Hawthorne. It’s soft and soulful but there’s a a real edge to it. Andy Platts’s vocal is quite superb and it makes you realize that all the wannabees on programmes like the X Factor are just that – wannabees. Indeed it’s Platts’s remarkable voice that holds this album together. He brings and element of consistency to what is essentially a varied menu and in ‘Pots Of Gold’ he’s helped to craft a masterpiece.
(BB) 3/5