The Commonheart – For Work or Love
While not as forceful & engaging as Blood, Sweat & Tears or as commercially viable as its pop-horned equivalent Ides of March, The Commonheart does possess a good tight groove with lots of Arthur Conley brass cohesiveness (“Sweet Soul Music”). Sweet funk-laden horn with liberal shots similar to Archie Bell & the Drells (“Tighten Up”). Old school artists who rode the crest of horn-oriented rock with balance & excitement.
The Pittsburg-based band has a good sense of brass weaved through by a tasty jazz-inflected lead guitar (Mike Minda). He provides some delicious licks & the band lays out consistently inviting music paced by fluid arrangements.
The music contained is excellent with sparkling performances. So, while this kind of music has been done before The Commonheart does provide a well-nourished recreation of this hot genre with their own distillation of limited funk with some high-octane progressive jazz guitar. Each tune is to be savored because they offer it on a platter with diversified flavors. They continue respectfully in the tradition of those prior classic artists. Clinton Clegg delivers striking somewhat John Martyn inspired-vocals that are gritty & sassy. The secret to their showcase is the powerful outlay of soul over their crisp horns.
The 42-minute, 10-cut For Work or Love (Drops Sept 16–Jullian Records) was produced by Steve Berlin (Los Lobos). Highlights (in sequence): “How Do I Do This,” “Trying to Get Over,” “All I Ever Wanted,” Hustler,” “Lonely King,” “Half at Home in Love,” “Never Say Goodbye,” “Far Enough,” “Josephine” & the sole rocker — “Pick Up My Head.”
The band – Clinton Clegg & Mariko Reid (Vocals), Abby Gross (Sax), Nate Insko (trumpet), Cole Insko (drums), Anton DeFade (bass), Lucas Bowman (keyboards) with Steve Berlin, Jesse Brooke & Dave Hidek (percussion), Anne Celedonia & Kenny Stockard (vocals).
Criticism? The CD art. What is up with that? Another musician walks the railroad tracks — a tired concept. The back cover is a solemn image of a bearded man (vocalist Clinton Clegg) on a sofa, not bad if he were alone but — a poor decision to print tiny italic copy (lyrics) that’s unreadable without a magnifying glass. In some areas, even that won’t work because the copy was never spread by the printer in the white areas & the color trapped.
I had no definitive reference for the song titles (see highlights) because you can’t see all of them on the CD. Musically? Everything that’s old is new again. Proof?
Spin The Commonheart, don’t try to read the lyrics & smile as you listen.
Photo courtesy of The Commonheart website. CD @ amazon + http://www.thecommonheart.com