This review combines my takes on the album and the songs along with insights and comments from my interview with Jordan Linit, co-founder and guitarist conducted on October 24, 2018.
Analog Son, a not brand new funk band out of Denver founded by Josh Fairman (bass, also with Sunsquabi) and Jordan Linit (guitar) — just released Funky Mother (buy it here now), their fourth disc but their first on the Color Red group/label. Of course, Color Red is a brand new hub of high-quality, curated content founded by Eddie Roberts of The New Mastersounds. There’s so much goodness on the disc as every song is a winner and we’ll dig deep in the coverage but first some background on the band.
Jordan and Josh started playing music together when they were fourteen and were actually dropped off by their parents to play in local bars. They were influenced by such icons as Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, George Benson, The Meters and Parliament/Funkadelic. Their initial gigs were short – they only knew a few songs and sometimes repeated them but they always grooved on funky stuff including Jungle Boogie (Kool & The Gang) and Chameleon (Herbie Hancock). Their first band was Kinetix, a blend of rock, funk and pop.
A turning point was when they first heard Scofield’s A Go Go and they gelled over funk/jazz/hip-hop/electronic. Their initial albums were studio projects that had rotating musicians including Joe Tatton from The New Mastersounds and the Lettuce Shady Horns (Ryan Zoidis and Eric “Benny” Bloom) and the legacy of those excellent albums can be heard on Funky Mother as well.
For this album Linit and Fairman cultivated a steadfast crew of top-call musicians to round out their roster include: Devon Parker & Ashley Niven (vocals), Eric Luba (keyboards), George Horn (drums), Will Trask (percussion), Mike Chiesa (tenor saxophone), and Gabe Mervine (trumpet formerly with The Motet). Despite the solid lineup, this album, like the others, still features an all-star guest roster with Shane Endsley of Kneebody, Jeff Franca of Thievery Corporation, Parris Fleming of The Motet, and Nick Gerlach of Michal Menert & the Pretty Fantastics.
“Utilizing our core group of musicians in the studio, we’ve been able to incorporate live intricacies into the composition and showcase everyone’s character who’s in the core band. Their musical personalities are starting to come through in the studio and reflect what people have come to expect in the live show,” says Linit. “This record has a more refined sound. We’ve been playing together for long enough now where we’ve developed more of a unique sound—as opposed to just being funky, it actually sounds like our band,” Fairman highlights on the cemented cast of musical cohorts.
Let’s The record was recorded together as a “live” session dig in to a track by track listen.
- CTI – For those old school cats like me, CTI is a throwback reference to the Creed Taylor era and is a homage to the great artists on that label in the 1970s which included George Benson, Herbie Hancock, and Grover Washington, Jr. This tune starts out with a drum hit that reminds of Ebony Jam from Tower of Power and segues into an organ vibe that sounds like it could be out of a 60s movie but then comes hard with some excellent horn licks, nice bass riff bridge that leads into a super trumpet solo by Gabe Mervine again with a cool ToP sound (probably why I immediately loved this album). It just clicks all around before the hard stop!
- Ugly Mug – This one has a real Orgone feel, that California greasy funk with terrific vocals by Ashley. The horn break actually sounds a little like the Snarky horns – of course not a bad thing at all. The horns are laid down over a “stinky 70s vibe groove” according to Jordan. The sound separation on this tune and the whole album lets you hear every part distinctly and have its own voice, yet melds together like butter on bread.This is one of Jordan’s favorites and he noted the he notes the deep counterpoint A section with the B section taking it to another fusion level and a little rock/psychedelia. Of note, he mentioned the influence of Roy Hargrove (who just passed away) and Bill Evans. The jam-esque guitar work stands out at the end!
- Puppified – Well, the guitar intro sounds like Eddie Roberts or his influence, but this tune is just great cruising music. The title is actually a reference to a French bulldog Jordan had that chilled in his desk drawer while he wrote music. The horn to guitar groove is terrific. Excellent guitar bridge by Jordan in the middle with nice build to hard stop end.
- Top Hat – One of my favorite tunes on the album, it’s essentially a full on sax solo throughout with super accompaniment. To me, the staccato horn notes are gold and very reminiscent of Richard Elliott, one of Tower of Power’s former lead tenor players or Ryan Zoidis of Lettuce. The tune was penned by Josh, Eric Luba, George Horn and Nick Gerlach.
- Got to Get Down – This one, written by Jordan and Devon and sung by Devon, has a James Brown feel. Some terrific guitar/bass interaction throughout. The “yea, yea, yea, yea” chorus is a great touch and rolls right into some great horn work followed by an instrumental bridge set up for Devon to lead into the final sax solo.
- No Way – Josh, George and Eric developed the groove and then when the team listened to it on a demo version, the tempo changed and then Ashley’s vocals were added afterwards. This one has the feel of a 60s soul classic with some dark undercurrents.
- Boom – “This tune has a Meters feel in that is more stripped down” says Jordan, “it has more space and has that New Orleans guitar funk. When the band wanted to add horns and beef it up, Eddie Roberts said it was good as is.” The perspective was needed and produced a tune where you can definitely hear Josh and Jordan as the “core” of the band. Jordan’s guitar solo in the middle has a real bluesy feel and then some excellent picking to build to the end. The keys work echoes some heavy Robert Walter sounds and is a great way to close out.
- Give More – Devon does a great job on vocals on this one, which grew organically from a collaboration of Josh, Eric, and George. It’s got some great rhythm jams and beautiful grooves. Love the heavy bass and the jangly guitar work. The slowdown on the bridge highlights Devon’s vocals and is a standout on this tune.
- Funk Back – “This one’s different as it’s inspired by Motown (Commodores) with a minor dark feel” says Jordan. “It’s one of my favorite guitar solos here and I played Eddie’s guitar.” Great syncopated drum intro with horns hitting hard followed by some nice guitar work with horns coming in for punctuation. It has a great mood mood and bounces along. For me, it’s some of Jordan’s best work on the album.
- Greens – Another Josh, Eric, George collaboration with Eric writing the keys synth part and the melody followed. It had a a real organic development with everyone contributing along the way and less preliminary arranging. The standout for this one is the organ solo in the middle with some nice drum/bass support.
- Another Brother – Jordan wrote this one with some fusion intricacies and it was a satisfying creative outlet. It had some tight guitar-bass riffs similar to a Tower of Power or Lettuce tune. The horns in the B section were played by Shane Endsley of Kneebody, The tune has a an Eastern/Far East melodic feel according to Jordan. The outro changes pace and makes me feel like we’re galloping along the rail.
- Sliders – This one has a jam influence and had virtually no preconceived concept written. It just happened when they started playing and then 1/2 hour later they had a track. Excellent teamwork by Jordan and Josh here as they keep this groove rolling. “That’s what happens when best friends and bad-asses get together and start playing” according to Jordan — and it works!
We love it and know you will too. Buy Funky Mother here and do your ears a favor. Enjoy!