At the recent release party for the CD under review here at Detroit Bar, Huntington Beach group Allensworth generated a steamy funk-soul brew of impressive intensity and dexterity. It was damned exciting.
So when I popped Allensworth's Broken Leaves into the player, I expected heat, a sound somewhere between early War (they cover "Slippin' Into Darkness" with righteous nuance) and peak-time Average White Band. Instead, the disc radiates a mellow amber glow, a post-coital languor that's more about pillow talk than dance-floor maneuvers. Which is cool, but I think Allensworth excel at the party-rockin' funk that is a raucous prelude to the bedroom and (one hopes) the post-coital pillow talk.
The 11 tracks on Broken Leaves will provide your recommended yearly amount of positive vibes in 41 minutes. Front man Jamie Allensworth has the sort of warm, extroverted personality and burnished, raw-soul vox that earn him the right to name the group after himself. (Allensworth's membership includes folks from Nafro and Liparis Nervosa.)
"Standing in Line" sets the album's tone: a downtempo, easy-going lope of a song that's as welcoming as the gradual embrace of a lover after a hard day of work; it's something you can imagine Al Green nodding his head in appreciation to. "Let It Rain"—which isn't the Eric Clapton classic, but Allensworth could probably do it justice—exudes a Style Council-esque air of peppy yet casual soulfulness, a glinting optimism. "Stay Inside" and "411" are lilting, romantic numbers geared for wooing and doing—and maybe ruing. "Push Me Off" is the album's most scorching funk track, evoking Curtis Mayfield's Superfly (high praise, indeed).
Allensworth show reverence for the grand soul-music tradition, but not obsequiously so. They realize that this is their raison d'être, and they simply get the job done with prodigious skill and deep feeling.
Attention Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, along with your vital contact info and a decent high-resolution photo (plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or just be lazy and e-mail your MySpace link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out this week's featured ad for Entertainment