There’s something refreshing about soul. Even as the sun beats down, the plants shrivel and the dull din of fossil-fuel burning air conditioners pollutes the aural atmosphere, soul can reassure us that if we just chill out and lock into a slick groove, then everything will be okay. And even if it’s turns out to be another cheap panacea, there’s a moment or two when the world is pretty damn good.
And so it is with Lowrider’s latest record, Black Stones. At its highest peak, Lowrider can sooth the mind of the most troubled individual; to whit, the glistening ’70s white flares and gospel beauty of Golden Sun, or the emphatic organ-spiked post-disco strutting elegance of Little Darling. On And I Wonder you’re grooving to a beat that just yearns for some groin thrusting dance-floor action; skip forward to hip-hopping Day Time Tripping and it’s acid freakdom on a Sunday afternoon. On Fire Away the mood is sultry, the weapons of emotional dispute kept out of action; the title track is quiet, reserved and soothing.
But when Lowrider is packing attitude, it’s a sight to behold. The opening track, Days Of Boredom grinds and grunts like Mick Collins exploring the heart of Curtis Mayfield. On The Pay Day, Lowrider riff on the time-honoured chain gang blues chant and take it into James Brown’s early ’70s funk palace, and the rewards are there for anyone to hear. What Happened To You is less a casual enquiry and more a brash accusation, albeit one which tempers as the inquisition proceeds.
While there are the occasional moments where subtlety gives way to something approaching tepid – case in point, Be A Star – Black Stones takes you to a place where the soul is in good shape. And so it should be all the time.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Best Track: Golden Sun
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: MARVIN GAYE, HALL AND OATES, THE BLACK EYED PEAS
In A Word: Soul