Kings Juga – Paris Westburn (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

The term R&B has come to mean something new in the last few decades, the term perhaps conjuring images of girl groups, lip-synching to rootsy pop songs, more concerned with dance routines than music. But it used to mean something else. The clue is in the name. Rhythm. And. Blues.

And it is that more seminal sound that runs right through the first track of this brace of cool songs, Church Inna Juke Joint. It sparks with energy, it runs on cool guitar riffs, it is vocally infectious, melodically motivating, a blast from the past sent here to reignite our passions, an echo of better musical times for us to rally around in the modern age.

Its travelling companion also feels like a reminder of a time of talent over technology, passion over profit, music as a celebration. But The Birth Book is a very different beast. Pure soul! Gorgeously realised and wonderfully real vocal threads pitched over gospel-soul harmonies, a paean to higher powers, with just enough strange sonic washes and effects to create the perfect feeling of otherworldliness.

And between these two succinct and sensational songs, Paris Westburn says more musically than whole albums which have passed under my pen of late. His songs are blasts from the past but anything but a nostalgic trip. These are the real deal and their contrast with the musical fads and fashion, the fickleness and fakery of the modern music scene makes them stand out like a beacon of creativity and hope, a reminder that we have much to learn from what’s gone before. And it is these lessons when used to inform and infuse, inspire and influence music made today, which will secure a bright future for music in general, and Paris Westburn in particular.

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