Bristol based Kevin Figes has been busy. Between last year’s quartet recording Hometime and completing another soon to be released session on his own Pig Records, up pops another completely different project showcasing his funky side. From the first slap of Daisy Palmer’s snare on the opener ‘Evel Minx’, there’s no doubting what this album is about and it’s hard to sit still listening to it. Kevin has assembled an outrageously groovy band to play a set of his own tunes and one cover sometimes leaning to a rocky feel, at others to a more explicitly New Orleans flavoured funk. Plenty of jazz chops are on display for sure, but this is something of a master class in how to play just enough and no more to really stoke up excitement whether building solos, letting a riff really rip or a quieter mood develop .
That opener Evel Minx definitely has a foot in the rock camp, Rising opens with a really snappy riff and a hint of New Orleans funk from the drums underpinning the mazy theme doubled by Mike Outram’s guitar and Kevin’s alto. Dan Moore on keys plays a blinder. Some hanging chords on the Rhodes he plays throughout the album gradually interspersed with some darting funky lines build tension only released at a crescendo before he gives way to a burning solo from the Kevin on alto for this track. I wanted to shout for more. There are plenty of other moods with Kevin alternating between alto and baritone and some great writing with really appealing melodies. ‘Still’ is delivered over a steady even pulse from the band and Mike Outram’s just perfect lyrical accompaniment and singing solo on guitar. The constant presence, often artfully lowkey, Rhodes piano gives several tunes a hint of a 70s prog rock blended with a very contemporary take on harmony and rhythm (there are plenty of odd meters sprinkled around if you listen). The solitary cover is Name of the Game by 70s Welsh rockers Badfinger, Kevin’s baritone rasping out the melody with real emotional force.
This is a great collection of tunes with a band really on song mining fertile musical territory. There’s great playing from everyone; Mike Outram sounds utterly compelling whatever he’s doing whether its sweet ballads, screaming rock guitar or burning jazzy funk, Kevin sounds in his element and Daisy Palmer and Dan Moore’s contributions are judged to perfection keeping the excitement and tension bubbling nicely . I’ve a feeling this one will keep finding its way onto my CD player. The forthcoming launch is accompanied by a tour so another ‘must catch’ live experience to seek out.