When your band is surrounded by the multi-layered musical landscape of New York city you need to be something special to stand out and be noticed and it’s clear within the first few minutes of the new album by six-piece funk band Lettuce that this sits at a higher standard than most musical offerings.
From the song writing and musical performance, all the way through to arrangements and production, the listener is in the presence of a band in total control of their musical direction.
What ‘Elevate’ does so well is showcase the dexterity of the individual players without deviating from the collective, the songs are strong, played with the energy and drive that funk requires but also relying on influences such as hip-hop, jazz and soul to add variation and depth. There are clear influences from Herbie Hancock – particularly on track ‘Larimer’ – Niles Rogers’ guitar play on ‘Royal Highness, Carlos Santana on ‘Shmink Dabby’ and stand-out track ‘Ready to Live’ harks back to the 1970’s ‘Superstition’-era of Stevie Wonder. There is even time for a well-placed cover in the Tears For Fears classic ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’. The band pack in a lot of neat touches into each track, its clear this band rehearse and put a lot of hours into each arrangement.
At times the tracks can feel a little overlong but when a band can play (and interplay) this brilliantly, nothing is lost by allowing a song or groove to breath a little. It’s a great compliment that the recording captures this atmosphere of energy and improvisation and for anyone who enjoys a big sound from bands that have the skill to take the listener on a ride, then this is for you.