When I think of Denver funk, The Motet is the first band I think of. They’ve been putting out great albums for more than 20 years, with All Day, being their 10th and I’ve been with them most of that time. This album takes them back to their funk roots of hard hitting, retro-echoing, mood-enhancing instrumental music.
In a way, the band has come full circle, from its afro-cuban stylings through it’s two eras with lead vocals and back. All throughout, The Motet‘s live sets always featured two or three tunes featuring instrumentals. One new twist for this release is the center around two keyboards from Joey Porter and Garret Sayers, who also doubles on sax. Previous releases had more pronounced horn lines. The result here is a more spatial envelope that wraps you up in feel good funk All Day!
Back Seat has a fanfare opening and then a go-go theme reminiscent of The Blackbyrds with the screaming synth. It’s also got a bouncy slick horn counterpunch. Garret Sayers takes an effective short sax solo followed by Joey Potter doing his thing on synth. After that, there’s a little segue into space before Ryan Jalbert takes a fuzzed up guitar solo. The tune is a balanced showcase of the whole band and individual solos.
False Prophets ‘drops the bomb on me’ with its opening of funky kick drum-bass-synth combo a la The Gap Band. It turns into so aural ethereal space with some surround sound synth before dropping in some curvy sax from Drew. This is some excellent horntrippin funk.
All Day starts with silky smooth synth and switches to Blackbyrd-esque kushy ride. It’s a vibey mix of afro-reggae-trance themes. Ryan has a short solo at the bridge and then Garrett slams a short bass solo. The back section is highlighted by a Joey Porter solo to the fade.
Evil Twin‘s meaning was revealed to me on my second or third listen in the car. It’s a soothing synth salve with a nice warm feel evoking some very happy vibes building to a euphorice crescendo. That is, until exactly the midpoint of the tune, when there’s a percussive transition to the dark side, the Evil Twin if you will. The same theme is played with some with deep bass and spooky echo synth. Ryan shreds some heavy guitar, a 180 degree turn from the first half.
’79 has that funky bass line start – don’t know if it’s a throwback reference to that year which was definitely a good one for funk but I’ll roll with it. The melody is super catchy and would fit in well for the Soul Train line dance
Draccus dives into the dark side with some deep tones and Joey does his thing on the vocalizer. Draccus is ‘the beast’ perhaps a personal dragon, that needs to fed. It’s a swirling and roaring fantasy right up to the end.
Sunshine is another tune that along with its companion, Shade, had it’s meaning hidden from me until prepping this coverage. This tune and album overall makes me wanna be outside and rolling with friends. The A-section echoes Bobbi Humphrey’s, Harlem River Drive, a great classic cruiser. Towards the middle, the second with the dual synth echo and melody is terrific. The transition to some afro-beat and organ keeps the tune fresh throughout right up to the final refrain and ending siren.
YFJF immediately sets the groove with a memorable theme and then goes into silk overdrive gear. I’ll do some checking to see what YFJF means and revert back here. Joey Porter I think comes up midway through with an underwater sounding solo that segues into a synth solo with his funky fingerprint on it.
Let the Music Play has a Funky Meters feel with the title being the vocal refrain of the tune. My only wish is that they would’ve sung it more as it’s such a super catchy, happy phrase. The call and response between the organ and synth is a super balance. The middle bridge is an fantasy carnival carousel. All thoroughout the bass + drums rhythm drives this one hard. Ryan has a sweet bluesy solo at the 3/4 mark that fits like a glove here.
Can’t Fool Me has a jamtronica intro before the heavy bass and synth sets the tone. Joey takes a talkbox lead vocal that is super cool and a throwback to 80s funk sounds like Zapp. It’s about some nasty backstabbing characters acting like a charlatan and so has a little edginess in the tune. Feeling mad never felt so good – quite a nice remedy in my opinion.
Heathen as expected from the title has a darker hue with a mid tempo beat and a matched synth overlay. The bridge breaks to a percussion led segment with bass and drum and then drops back to the main theme.
Shade sounds like a bouncy flipside to Sunshine with an afro beat vibe. The bell percussion is a highlight leading into a solid Ryan guitar solo all the while with some syncopated funk rhythms. Garrett shines on bass as the backbone for the tune. There’s a bright keys solo before the spotlight drops back to the bass and then the two combine in the main theme. Garrett goes very deep for the end and the band clicks in on all levels for the very effective ride out.
Dave Watts / drums
Joey Porter / keys
Garrett Sayers / bass
Drew Sayers / keys & saxophone
Ryan Jalbert / guitar