France’s mightiest funk act Shaolin Temple Defenders once more stand firm against fake funk forces with From The Inside, their fourth long player in a decade. It’s an agreeable thirteen strong mixture of sweet Motown style (northern) soul and nuggets of fatback funk which ticks all the right boxes. Decent tunes? Yep, no duff ones here. Singer with the range and ability to pull off convincing soul? Yep – the highly capable ‘Brother’ Lion is in his element as soul frontman with the sort of unobtrusive Euro-lilt to his American-accented English reminiscent that you find with, say, Don Cavalli, though Lion’s voice is less roadhouse than his fellow countryman’s. Super tight horn arrangements that stop and start on dime? Locked down.
The album opens with Let Your Love Shine On Me, which seems like it’s going to be a stripped-back, mid-tempo slice of funky soul but goes all doo-wop on the chorus. Our Love Will Live Forever is straight-up mid-sixties Motown while Super Nacho Funk gets down like a JBs meets Beginning Of The End bullet. Of course any self-respecting contemporary funk soul outfit has to do some sort of cover and frankly, with a name like Shaolin Temple Defenders there was really only one option. That’s right – Carl Douglas-fronted classic Kung Fu Fighting – here rendered as a northern soul stomper. And let’s not forget mellow funk bump A Lil Bit Of Lovin or Stax burner Spirit Of The South which clearly demonstrate where soul comes from. The inside, right?
(Out now on Soulbeats)