Vintage League (label)
31 January 2020 (released)
28 January 2020
There is a particular sound, part funk & part soul, that is a very British form of classic R&B and of bands around today I would say that Crowd Company are probably the best proponents of it.
The way that the Hammond and horns work together is stunning and the band’s vocals – whether it’s Robert Fleming’s solo vocal or Joanne Marshall & Esther Dee leading together – is delightfully understated, letting the music play free as the focus.
Fleming’s guitar is a central part of the band’s rhythm and Claudio Corona’s keyboards give a huge swell to their sound while the horn section of Ryan Zoidis (sax) & Eric Bloom (trumpet) add some solid punch to the music. Emil Engstrom’s bass lines really anchor the songs and Robin Lowrey’s drums are rock solid but surprisingly unflashy.
They sound like a band whose many skills are slotted together without any real gaps, also like a band who really enjoy their music and that comes over in every track of the album.
Right out of the gate ‘A New Direction’ swings, the horns and keys building the sound, bass line pumping and occasional cymbal crashes taking the tune every which way. Irresistibly groovy, it has a fab sixties sound to it but it is as modern as you like.
‘Stories’ is powerful and brash, twin vocals from Joanne & Esther, that shimmering Hammond and strong wah wah from Robert Fleming’s guitar lines, massive grunt in the chorus and fade.
Track after track got me up and dancing (it is an exhausting album). I have promised myself a trip to see them live but I suspect that the songs will be no more danceable, the sense of tightness to the playing and interplay won’t be any moreso than here.
This is, I think, their third album and it seems to have found them in a good place.
There aren’t really any other bands around with this kind of sound – a touch of jazz here, a hint of Stevie Wonder there, non-stop groove and danceable as heck - or quality. Bloody fine.