It was back in 2016 that we last heard from North East duo Smoove and Turrell. They’d just released their fourth studio album,’ Crown Posada’. The set was crammed with their distinctive, quirky take on soul and jazz/funk and, we were informed, that the album was the first part of a trilogy. It’s been almost two years, but part II – the 11 track ‘Mount Pleasant’ is almost set to hit the sales racks.
So, to explain the chronology… ‘Crown Posada’ was a set of songs that set out to offer thoughts and reflections on the generation that preceded S&T. (Crown Posada, by the way, is a famous old Newcastle pub, frequented by the older, tough Geordie shipwrights and miners)) .The album track, ‘New Jerusalem’ examined the conflict between the old and the new, and so ‘Mount Pleasant’ moves on to look at that “new” in more detail. But not the new of now; rather the new of the pair growing up in the Gateshead district of Mount Pleasant.
Key cut in terms of nostalgia is ‘A Deckham Love Song’ – a warm, rose-tinted look back at growing up. Sonically, it’s a little different for S&T. Best point of reference is possibly the work of Sheffield crooner Richard Hawley (though there’s hint of Morrissey in the vocal too); it is a lovely tune.
Elsewhere the sonic palette is, by and large, more typical of the duo – that’s to say, carefully-crafted dance grooves – some more frantic than others. The set’s lead single is indeed of one the LP’s big grooves – ‘You’re Gone’. With vocals from Jalapeno tablemate Izo Fitzroy, it’s already winning plenty of exposure from taste makers like Craig Charles. Lyrically, it’s the simple tale of who to turn to now “you’re gone”. Some of the other danceable tunes though have a more pointed message – like ‘Hate Seeking Missile’. It’s a tough groove with a tough message – inspired by (and written shortly after the murder of) MP Jo Cox.
If you prefer things a little down-tempo we recommend ‘Billie’ and ‘Flames To Feed’. The latter (with a melody referencing an old Geordie folk song, I think) is another with a telling tale…. the perils of debt and spiralling interest: “Debt is the start of your slavery. You get that little bit of plastic it’s not clear to see that you’ll be shackled to these chains until the day you don’t breathe. So stop and hold breath”... soul music with a conscience.
Smoove and Turrell’s ‘Mount Pleasant’ is released on June 29th.