Having topped the charts with a number one hit on Billboard, alternative jazz act Groovexpress now create further waves with the full-length and aptly titled new album Get Down & Funk.
Blissful guitar work and a crisp, clean yet nostalgic presentation kicks off this project in the perfect way. Think back to the days of Prince and funk and live guitar and drums, throw in a fresh vocal line, some new songwriting, and a contemporary wash of good energy, and Groovexpress have the tools required to temporarily take away your blues.
Seeing the band step away from the set-up of previous albums, this new release features no keys, and no sax or brass sections. What we get is a guitar party and some stylish pedal work, great rhythms, and immediately infectious hooks. And that’s all fulfilled with even just the opening track.
For those new to their work, Groovexpress is an ensemble led by composer and musician Mykeljon Winckel (MJ), and has been operating on the scene for over a decade now. That level of experience is unquestionable, and the impressive performances and clean finish of this playlist speaks volumes on behalf of dedication and knowledge.
You’ve Set Me Free follows on with more of a seductive, smooth and soulful groove. Simple, poetic imagery and intimacy unite, alongside flickers of expressive guitar, and a back and forth between vocals that’s brilliantly addictive to listen to. Turns out the words ‘groove’ and ‘express’ are the perfect choices to combine for this band name.
As the ten track album goes on, there are moments of blissful mellow as much so as those that get you feeling geared up and ready to move. Always there’s optimism, colour and calm. Say A Prayer is particularly chilled, spacious and shoulder swaying, allowing the natural qualities of the vocals to really shine.
It’s Your Day is a personal highlight, a kind of Rolling Stones-esque vocal rides alongside this funky, instant good vibes instrumental with a level of lyrical intimacy and inspiring celebration all at once. Then we get a really retro touch of spoken word for Heal Me, taking things way back in time and keeping the mood mellow and reflective.
During the latter half, superb guitar work subtly guides us through a catchy melody that is Irresistible You. Lines like You make me smile in my heart give the track a certain loving accessibility – this is your song, theirs, any couple who needs it. And afterwards we get a strong injection of energy and movement for the equally memorable My World’s On Fire.
Love Is Crazy is a particularly nostalgic, somewhat vintage stand-out. The guitar sound is again sublime, and the vocals are a little lower in tone yet find themselves meanderings more so than before. it’s a welcomed change in writing style that lays bare a whole new level of detail.
Then we get the simple hook satisfaction of a hypnotic You Got Me Goin’, right before the supreme guitar pairing and organic energy of Cookies and Love kicks in to finish things off. A dash of Santana-like freestyle guitar makes for a stunning final chapter, another highlight and an ideal way to go out.
Aside from the positive energy and loving unity that this album delivers, it also works well to remind us of the power of live music. This natural set-up, these finely tuned performances – we’re all missing the live scene and the festivals right now. Fortunately, Get Down & Funk is here to do its absolute best to fill the gap. Enjoy.