Friday, July 25, 2008

The Diplomats Of Solid Sound -- Featuring The Diplomettes (2008)

The Diplomats Of Solid Sound -- Featuring The Diplomettes (Pravda)

The Iowa City R & B revivalists are no longer a crack instrumental outfit. They now have added vocals, and let me tell you, the five Diplomats found three great Diplomettes. Sarah Cram, Katharine Ruestow and Abbie Sawyer are more than solid, and certainly soulful.

The album opens with “Plenty Nasty”, a wonderful instrumental showcase for saxophonists David Basinger (baritone) and Eddie McKinley (tenor). While drummer Jim Viner lays down a fat beat, and Nate “Count” Basinger’s Hammond B3 Organ provides the funk, Basinger and McKinely simply swing.

Having shown what they can do as instrumentalists, the rest of the album is earthy and swinging (I gotta keep saying it) R & B music. “Come in My Kitchen” has a tough lead vocal and the backing of the other Diplomettes is sassy. There is a light dose of funk on this song, with the guitar figures from Doug Roberson sounding like they came from a Sly and the Family Stone record.

A lighter touch is required for the cover of Carla Thomas’ “B-A-B-Y”. I’d be concerned if the Diplomats and ‘mettes didn’t knock this out of the park. Not to worry. This version has yet another strong Diplomette vocal and Viner showing a lighter touch that allows the melody to flourish without dulling the momentum of the tune.

The choral vocal skills of the Diplomettes get showcased on “Smokey Places”. This is pure Ikettes territory, except even sexier. The bass part is played on the organ (as there is no bass player), while Roberson chicken scratches and Viner fills the space with subtle percussion. The heart of this song is the ensemble vocals, the gals get a prime opportunity to strut their stuff, and strut they do.

My favorite song has a jazzy undercurrent that makes this sound like a more retro Brand New Heavies side. Cool is the best description of “Hurt Me So”, a pulsing mid-tempo number. This is so smooth. A remix of the song is the last track on the disc, and it adds a ska rhythm to the proceedings. I usually find remixes to be pointless, but the reggae vibe adds an extra dimension to this already wonderful track. Adding more Jamaica and other outside influences to this band’s arsenal would be great, as the Diplomats can groove in an R & B style so effortlessly.

In the meantime, I hope the Diplomats and Diplomettes stick together. They make a great team.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

if wow gold and maple story mesos wow gold