Title - 'Sweet Freaks' (Ear Music)
Artist - The Brand New Heavies
The Brand New Heavies - Jan Kincaid, Simon Bartholomew, Andrew Levy and Dawn Joseph - whose debut, self-titled album hit stores in 1990, have truly stood the test of time. The eleven tracks featured on the quartet's tenth studio album, Sweet Freaks are just the latest proof of that!
An important part of what makes this album so delightful upon the ears is The Brand New Heavies "voice," provided by the beautiful and wonderful Dawn Joseph. The Jersey born singer debuted on 2013's Forward, but at that time was still sharing vocal duties with the band's original lead singer, N'Dea Davenport.
Since then Joseph has come into her own in a big way and now has taken over the lead singer role and made it her own. Hers is a self-assured, powerful and also immensely versatile voice and that comes to the fore on all these brand new tracks, from one of the world's most adored acid jazz and funk groups.
We begin with the reworked, slightly retitled, title track, 'Sweet Freeek,' and my oh my, what a super great soul funk of a beat to wake up to this morning! Sure it would work in the afternoon, early evening, and late at night, but when you're waking up, first cup of coffee to hand (and lips), well, this was a beautiful surprise and morning accompaniment.
The old-fashioned slide organ comes up next, its funky beats bringing us, for my money, the most unexpected moment on this entire new album - a cover of the iconic worldwide hit 'Sledgehammer' by Peter Gabriel! The track is pure brilliance from start to finish, and with those trumpets and saxophone's giving their all, they make it their own very quickly. The disco dance floor vibe of 'In The Name of Love' is next, and is backed by the mid-tempo, Donna Summeresque 'Bring The Rain.'
Another mid-tempo track is '95 Tonight' and that's backed by the pleasing sounds of 'Pleased To Meet Ya' and then 'Get On.' The dance floor slide of 'We Live For The Summer' is a great track, and really should be heard on every beach around the world, so quite why this "summer-influenced" album is coming out on the verge of Winter is beyond me!
Indeed, the whole album is like a loving flashback to the 70's, early 80's, when Chic, Donna Summer, Anita Ward and all the others ruled the charts and airwaves. Sweet Freaks then delivers us 'Self Portrait,' before coming to the final musical bend with 'You Are The Fire' and then the growing, building cover of En Vogue's 'Don't Let Go.'