‘The soulful musicality makes your face shift from a grin to a full-on funked-up face scrunch!’
Intro to The Ashton Jones Project:
Bringing a whole host of incredible musicians with him, Ashton Jones seems to have only one mission: to create soulfully funky music fit for the 21st Century. And, if current credits are anything to go by – which include support slots with Shalamar and Incognito as well as appearances at Cheltenham Jazz Festival just last week – it is likely it has already been achieved. However, if you haven’t managed to catch them live yet, their self-titled EP (released 26th April) gives every reason why you should. Providing musical seduction in the form of Prelude, giving anthemic soul in Sadie Marie and making us head to the dance floor with Good Thing Guaranteed it’s a sound that’s hard to resist.
Getting us into a funked-up mood instantly, chromatically harmonised horn lines greet us. Infectious as can be, it breaks the silence prior to hitting play in the most musical of ways and falling off at the end, it’s three seconds – yes three seconds – that guarantee it will only become even more so. And it most certainly does as replacing the acoustic opening, a 70s style combination of talky synths and bass guitar sets up a sway inducing groove that balances mid-tempo rhythms with energy filled musicality.
Joining the already funk-soul sound, Ashton’s vocal joins and sounding like it’s been pulled from the archives of Stax Records, you smile at the fact that music like this is still being created. There really is such a feel-good atmosphere about it and with relaxed drums ensuring the rhythmic centre is only strengthened, the gentle sway moves throughout your body. However, it is the chorus where it really takes hold.
Signalled by synchronised accents and encouraging us to not even entertain the thought of leaving the dance floor. While we have been grinning to this point, we find our face switching uncontrollably into more of a full on face scrunch. Emphasised by insanely groovy interlocking horn riffs, and expressive, call and response vocals filled with lyrical word painting, it’s hard to resist joining with the ‘screaming’ musicality as effortlessly flows.
Working in a similar way, following this we are given further groove filled encouragement within the lyrically genius second verse. Fully showcasing the cheeky elements that lie at the heart of funk and soul music, lines such as ‘Let me show you how to get down’ and ‘I don’t prescribe no drugs but I will cure your misery’ ensure we are never heading away from the intention of the track. Likewise, the return of the chorus truly encourages us to join the crowd and shout the title lyrics for all to hear. However, with such a continually infectious sound, a surprise is come in the form an unexpectedly chilled bridge.
Sounding much more free-form than earlier, synth melodies ride high above a much sparser texture featuring selective crashes and emerging chords. Drifting away we feel relaxed and like we are literally moving to a different beat. However, its placement is key to its success. Any earlier, our groove would be interrupted. Any later and we may wish for more. But positioned where it is, neither occurs. It is indeed funked-up perfection and on the track returning to its former energy, it gives us truly feel-good finale.
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Find out more about The Ashton Jones Project’s music at: Track Review: The Ashton Jones Project: I Need Love and Gig Review: The Ashton Jones Project at Cambridge Junction