Moonchild – Starfruit

Alternative soul/jazz trio Moonchild from Los Angeles just released their fifth album, and fourth for the UK-based independent Tru Thoughts Records. The double-LP comes in a gatefold cover with all credits and lyrics and more or less is a continuation of their now established sound. There is still the breathy, overdubbed vocal style of singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber Navran. And lots of Rhodes and synths played and programmed by Andris Mattson, who also plays guitar, ukulele, and piano, and Max Bryk, responsible for drums, keys, and the occasional clarinet.

Moonchild "Starfruit"

And we get a lot of guest singers this time around, starting with the scintillating voice of Lalah Hathaway on the soulful opener “Tell Him”, even though it is a relatively short spot. But the song resonates. Feels good. Like all of the four pieces on side one: the sophistication and mellowness of the breakbeat-styled “Takes Two”, the warm glow with Rhodes and synthetic handclaps of “Little Things”, and the r&b-influenced soul stepper “You Got One” featuring singer Alex Isley.

I find it a bit disturbing and uneven that there are three songs which include some rap parts. They seem to be like a foreign body, needless and not really fitting. To quote one of their tracks from this album, it’s the little things which make the difference, like the short, but effective trumpet part on “Too Good”. Or the more driving beat of “Get By” featuring Tank and the Bangas. I’m well aware that all of the group’s production and writing work might become too formulaic, if you compare this latest output to the older records, but somehow it still works. It is relatively unobtrusive music with a twist. No eccentricities, but little effervescent twinkles here and there make the cut.

But still, there is enough variety here. More mythical and ethereal stuff like on the thick, midtempo flow on “The Last Time” or the smooth voice of Chantae Cann on the steadily floating “The Long Way” which also features an alto sax solo by Josh Johnson. Don’t miss Moonchild on their European tour which has just been postponed to late summer /early fall (they are touring all over the US in April and May):

09/03 Riga – Palladium
09/05 Oslo – Parkteatret Scene
09/06 Johanneshov – Slaktkyrkan
09/07 Copenhagen – Amager Bio
09/08 Hamburg – Laeiszhalle
09/10 Berlin – Gretchen
09/11 Prague – Palać Akropolis
09/12 Warsaw – Praga Centrum
09/13 Vienna – Porgy & Bess
09/15 Frankfurt – Zoom
09/16 Paris – Le Trabendo
09/17 Amsterdam – Melkweg
09/20 Roeselare – Cultuurcentrum De Spil
09/21 Rotterdam – LantarenVenster
09/22 Eindhoven – Fifth NRE
09/25 Bristol – Trinity Centre
09/26 Brighton – Brighton Concorde 2
09/28 Birmingham – O2 Academy2
09/29 Manchester – Band On The Wall
09/30 London – O2 Forum
10/01 Leeds – The Wardrobe
10/04 Madrid – Sala Caracol
10/05 Barcelona – La Nau


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