20 years after their debut album “Cool & Steady & Easy”, which was voted “best r&b album” by Billboard magazine, the Brooklyn Funk Essentials return with their latest, “Funk Ain’t Ova”, seven years after their last release.
The gritty funk of their past albums continues here right on with the opener “Blast It!” and a lot of the original members are still on board or back on board, like Joi Cardwell, Stephanie McKay, or Everton Sylvester. It’s like a trip back to the golden years of 70s funk and soul bands with quality harmony vocals and fat grooves, continuing on the slightly mellower “Dance Or Die” which sounds like a rework of the best Chic tunes from around 1978. Joi shares vocal duties here with Papa Dee and Desmond Foster.
The late great Isaac Hayes opens “I’m Gonna Find Me A Woman” with his signature vocals. The tune soon turns into a veritable soul/funk brassy affair with lyrics to die for (“I Gotta Find Me A Woman Cause It’s Cold Outside”; isn’t that sweet?). Also on board here on backing vocals: Will Downing, Audrey Wheeler, Danny Madden. Like in the good old days. Stephanie is back for the irresisitible hook of “Prepare”, destined to become a hit song with its Brand New Heavies-like refrain. Crystal Waters is on backing vocals and also co-wrote the song! An uplifting, feel-good song that stays in your ear for a little bit longer.
Brimming with neat brass arrangements, including some cute soprano by Anna Brooks, “Hold It Down”, sung by Papa Dee, is another soaring funk tune which has some Average White Band moments as well, especially in the permeating guitar parts. And Papa also leads the sweaty “Hook”, a wonderful stepper with a lot of appeal. Funk goes reggae on “Gabriel” with more of those crisp brass parts and superb production, courtesy of Lati Kronlund, who also plays bass and keys and is one of the founding members.
Good times and fun continue on the mid-tempo “Brooklyn Love”, a soulful little ditty with Desmond on sexy lead vocals. Trombonist Josh Roseman adds some spice to the spoken-word “Recycled” which becomes too repetitious. And vibraphonist Bill Ware helps to make “Unique” a brilliantly dense and soul-packed album closer.