The Bamboos : Medicine Man
The Bamboos know their stuff. They’ve been in the game for over ten years and have received props from some of the biggest names in the funk/soul world; including legendary pianist Eddie Bo and soul singer Syl Johnson. Naturally, a high standard is to be expected from long player number five. Medicine Man delivers the deep funk sound The Bamboos have become known for, plus some deviations from the path.
A veritable host of guest vocalists appear on the album starting with homegrown boy, Daniel Merriweather, handling vocal duties on opener I Never. Merriweathers’ style of unassuming neo-soul/R&B regrettably doesn’t do justice to The Bamboos' musical backdrop, and this particular foray outside of their core genre ends up sounding rather mediocre. The mediocrity however stops there; as the rest of the album lifts its game to great heights.
Megan Washington is next up to bat with Eliza, which flutters along sweetly. It’s cute and bouncy soulful pop and it works. As soon as the guitar riff for I Got Burned starts, you know you’re in treat for some traditional down and dirty funk. You Am I front man Tim Rogers nails that bruised and battered, ‘I’ve been done wrong’ croon and takes full ownership of the song. The grittier sounding vocalists definitely work better on Medicine Man, with regular band member Kylie Auldists’ four inclusions on the album all demanding your attention. Auldist has a powerful set of lungs on her and the necessary guts to command the nine-piece funk powerhouse that is The Bamboos. If Cut Me Down and What I Know don’t make you want to get up and get down, nothing will. Aloe Blacc, the biggest name on the album contributes an endearingly reflective tune, Where Does The Time Go? but after the dancehall madness of previous track What I Know, its earnest subject matter feels a little out of place.
Medicine Man crackles, pops and fizzes. The mellow vibe on the neo-soul and pop tracks allows you to rest your tush (sometimes unwillingly) before the grinding funk gets you back up and swinging your thing. By all means, The Bamboos should keep pushing the genre envelope but deep funk will always be where the band make sparks fly.
BY KRYSTAL MAYNARD
Best Track: What I Know
If You Like These, You'll Like This: THE METERS, SHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS, THE MENHAHAM ST BAND, JAMES BROWN
In A Word: Progressive