wed 23/01/2019

CD: Aloe Blacc - Christmas Funk | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Aloe Blacc - Christmas Funk

CD: Aloe Blacc - Christmas Funk

Pretty much does what it says on the tin

Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III – Aloe Blacc – is one shrewd dude. He's extremely adept at reaching out beyond the confines of his natural beat of funk and soul, whether that's credible (covering The Velvet Underground's “Femme Fatale”) on his breakthrough 2010 Good Thingsalbum or commercial (co-writing and singing the late Swedish EDM gigastar Aviicii's “Wake Me Up” can't have done his bank balance any harm, what with going to number one in 22 countries). And of course nobody ever went bankrupt releasing a Christmas album... 

And yet, extraordinarily, he has always avoided having any whiff of cynicism about his work. The reason for that is that he has never left his roots behind. He's still connected to the Stones Throw / Brainfeeder axis of Californian psychedelic, virtuosic, exploratory hip hop and funk, and continues working on weird, wonderful and relevant records: he has credits, for example, on Georgia Anne Muldrow's Overloadalbum on Brainfeeder, one of this year's very best. And this record, silly though it might seem, is overflowing with all of that grassroots fun and funkiness from start to end.

There's nothing overly weird here, and it's all entirely retro – but not retro funk the eyes-on-the-prize pastiche way that, say, Bruno Mars does it; this is the real deal. And until you've heard Wham!'s “Last Christmas” done in synth-slathered late Seventies p-funk style, or Mariah Carey's “All I Want for Christmas” played down and dirty, you can't possibly appreciate how well it works. Elsewhere the songs are original, but scarcely less infectious. All the elements are there: a little bit of balladry with glockenspiel and sleighbells, a little bit of “Funky Drummer”, a whole lot of bumping, squelchy bass, and all the bonhomie you could shake a candy cane at. There is literally nothing to dislike here, unless you are anti-Christmas – sketchy, but perhaps understandable - or anti-funk, in which case what kind of monster are you?

Until you've heard Wham!'s “Last Christmas” done in p-funk style you can't possibly appreciate how well it works

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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