(4 / 5)
Crowd Company drop their third studio album, which features two of the horn players from Grammy-nominated US funk band Lettuce (if you do not know them, you really are missing out).
A juicy slice of vintage 70s-style soul funk with a modern slant, on a dozen classy originals.
“Lowdown” is their most accomplished and joined up release to date. A brace of instrumentals and 10 vocal tracks, ably produced by two of the band, Fleming and Corona with analogue master Alan Evans, who also sings backing vocals on one track and plays percussion on two. Recorded in the US.
The songs written or co-written by four of the eight-piece band, Robert Fleming (vocals and guitar), Claudio Corona (Hammond and keyboards), singers Joanne Marshall and Esther Dee.
Emil Engstrom plays bass, Robin Lowrey drums and Lettuce members Ryan Zoidis on sax’ and Eric Bloom on trumpet. Claudio Corona takes on horn arrangements and does a top notch job too.
All three singers get their turn at the mic’, which keeps things fresh while avoiding an uneven listen and any drop in continuity.
They nail the groove nicely with some gorgeous in the pocket moments across the dozen cuts.
The penultimate track, “Express 76” was the lead single lifted from the album, and is a standout moment for high energy groove. Craig Charles dug this one on his BBC6 Music show. The follow-up single was the title track here, and third single was “Stories”.
The opening track, “A New Direction” starts as the record means to go on, with pure quality and a great hook, on a 60s soul and funk tip. Super horn parts.
Four cuts in, “Now Is The Time” is trademark Crowd Company style, lovely vocal tapestry woven by the three singers and a lovely Hammond solo from Claudio Corona (I bet Claudio is fed up with cracks about the surname – so there will be none here!)
Live this band are red hot and have a kind of unwritten warranty that you are guaranteed a great night… On this new album they continue that QC modus-operandi (Quality Control) with palpable chemistry of this tight unit, cracking performances and sheer strength of material.
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’