Yes, Soul Scratch are a Soul band in the old skool, brass-led sense of the word. From what I can hear there is almost no scratching whatsoever going on but a whole lot of very fine soul music that could have come out at any time since about 1970, let alone in 2017.
The album opens with Pacified, the LP's lead single, which is a straight ahead soul belter full of great brass stabs and the sort of sound that could have come from a Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield album in the early 70's.
Look How Far We've Come seems almost ironic at the same time Trump is elected, as the What's Going On-types lyrics question how far we have indeed come and how to stop things backsliding. Damn, the horn section works overtime as singer Dale Spollett reaches right down inside himself and belts it out.
The Road Looks Long sounds like a Northern Soul floor filler which might come on at about 4 in the morning when everyone needs to slow down a bit. It also recalls current soul acts like Nathaniel Raetliff and The Night Sweats more than, say, New Street Adventure. This is very sophisticated adult soul, but not adult in a x-rated sense.
Odessa Heat opens like they are channelling the Daktaris and has an almost lazy Afro-beat feel to it as it builds into a soul-funk work out with some cool horn stabs. This one should get the dancefloor moving and grooving to a great instrumental track.
It's Not Over is a full-on pleading and begging Otis-style affair, espousing that we all work to make things better and, well, we are going to need as much encouragement to keep on this path in the coming years as we can get. This song deserves to soundtrack the fight back as it's majestically brilliant.
Kiss Me In The Morning is a slow, languid song hoping for a new love to be there to kiss you in the morning. It's no bad thing when you no longer have any make-up on as a sign that you are really in love and it's not just lust.
Be Kind opens like they are going to re-work Ooh Poo Pah Doo or something similar. It sounds like it ought to have a call and response section but doesn't and is instead a plea for your lover to come on home from the night shift and just relax and make love. I love what the brass section does on this song; it's just so cool with the trumpet coming out of one speaker and the Saxes out the other. Oh man, this is damn good.
Empty Cup is a bit faster, like you've just put more talc on the dancefloor and will be doing some jumps and twists to this tune. I find it almost impossible to sit still and listen to this album, I'm pretty much dancing as I write the review.
Fireside Lounge is certainly not lounge-core. It's much more of a funky floor filler with a slightly laid back edge to it and more of that killer brass section to lead into the final cut on the album. Thank You. This number gives gratitude the lover that made his life whole in many different ways. It's a lovely way to end with another song that really reminds me of Otis crossed with a bit of Koko Taylor and with a keyboard section taken out of an old Jimmy Smith tune. Wow, this is a fantastically sophisticated soul album.
The only fault I can really find is that I don't like the artwork. Personally, I'd have something more like a cross between a classic Impulse or Motown cover rather than the painting they use, which for me at least doesn't represent the music on this stunning album. But minor quibbles and all that, could quite possibly be the best soul album to come out in 2017. I know it's early but it is that good!
Find out more at Soul Scratch at Colemine Records