Album review: Menahan Street Band, The Crossing

By Graham Reid

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Album cover for The Crossing by Menahan Street Band. Photo / Supplied
Album cover for The Crossing by Menahan Street Band. Photo / Supplied

Released late last year, so lost between Rod/Buble Christmas carol albums and non-stick reggae vibes, this all-instrumental outing by the house band for Brooklyn's Dunham Records (a subsidiary of Daptone) - who did the honours on Charles Bradley's retro-soul gem No Time for Dreaming last year - is a quietly smouldering outing treading lightly between ensemble jazz, slo-soul and late night moods which steams with humid horns and organ grooves.

This anonymous supergroup - members of the Dap Kings and Antibalas - offers mood pieces which win by stealth and repeat play rather than deliver king hits. Many of these 11 pieces - the desert amble of Three Faces, deft funk and Oriental weirdness on Sleight of Hand, film noir on Bullet for the Bagman, beach-friendly guitars on Driftwood - have a cinematic quality which refers back to the 50s as much as the streets of today's New York.

In places you can almost hear how a vocalist might ride across the top - notably on the chipping funk and strings of Lights Out and the liquid Everyday a Dream - and some might feel that absence. But this is a quietly maturing winner for the summer days and nights ahead.

Stars: 4/5
Verdict: Slinky and warm horn-driven sounds

- TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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