THE NEW MASTERSOUNDS; ‘The Deplar Effect’ (Color Red)

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Originally from Leeds, the prolific New Mastersounds have been around for something like two decades. And the band that, amongst things launched Corinne Bailey Rae, are still going strong as evidenced by this, their latest long player. Yep, the one with the odd name. So some explanation. The Mastersounds have recorded all over the place – maybe most famously in Nashville, but this latest offering was cut in that  hot bed of soul and funk – Iceland! More specifically, at the brand new Floki Studios located down the valley of Eleven Experiences’ Deplar Farm in Iceland’s Troll Peninsula. The Eddie Roberts-marshalled band reckoned that post pandemic, a little isolated hunkering down wouldn’t go amiss. Then, the band say, the beautiful weather, the snow-capped mountains, the water, and the coziness of the brand new northern Icelandic studio had an “effect” on them – hence the album title!

However, you probably won’t notice – Iceland, Nashville or good old Leeds, the sound of the New Mastersounds remains essentially the same – raw, funky and soulful. If you caught this album’s first two singles you’d know that anyway. First up came the hard driving ‘Gonna Get In My Way’ – a homage to The Allman Brothers with a southern funk guitar riff and a convincing vocal from long time Mastersounds collaborator Lamar Williams. ‘Let Me In From The Cold’ was the album’s second single and once again Lamar Williams starred at the mic while Joe Tatton’s organ solo was, indeed,  is a track highlight.

Fans of the funk will be delighted to know that ‘The Deplar Effect’ offers plenty more of the same. The LP’s opening track, for example! The instrumental ‘Whatchu Want’ is an unashamed tribute to one of the Mastersounds’ key influences – the Meters. The tune is sparse, raw, loose-limbed and straight outa the Crescent City rather that Reykjavik! There’s more of the same on ‘Organism’- though here Tatton’s Hammond is the focus (the track title offers a big clue!). On ‘Could’ve Been So Good’ the flavour is more Memphis than New Orleans…. Booker T would be proud of this one!

‘The Deplar Effect’ boasts plenty of vocals too – all courtesy of Lamar Williams. We’ve  already mentioned  ‘Gonna Get In My Way’ and ‘Let Me In From The Cold’ but for variety try the more restrained (but never bland) ‘Hey It’s Aright’ or the sweet-ish ‘Before’ – both adding some respite to the funk and freneticism of the rest of the set.

(BB) 4/5