Monks Road Social
Monk’s Road Records
The idea sounds appealing. Rent a beautiful villa in the hills of Andaluc. Invite your friends to come hang out for a while. You and your friends are musicians, and their friends are musicians, and there are some more musicians living nearby whom you just met; invite everyone over for Sangria and tapas and make up some songs. That is the setting that birthed Monks Road Social’s new album, Humanism.
The “house band” is lead by Dr. Robert of the Blow Monkeys and includes Mick Talbot (Dexys Midnight Runners and Style Council), Matt Deighton (Oasis), and other studio veterans. The core band ensure that there is a unity and logic to the sounds of Humanism while the many guests bring the seasoning that give each song a unique flavor.
There is a funky, soul jazz feel that provides the foundation for most of these tunes. “You Said Too Much” is a sensual soul stirrer featuring Sulene Fleming and the luscious vibraphone of Orphy Robinson. “City Lights” (featuring Neil Jones and Celia Carballo) has a slick blues sheen reminiscent of Steely Dan or Boz Scaggs. “Sequiso” brings in some desert blues from Mali. It would take too long to try to enumerate the elements that make each song unique. I’ll just give a tip of the fez to Romy Deighton, Belle McNulty and Sulene Fleming for their stand out vocal performances.
There are a few interesting outliers in the mix. The opening track, “New Arrivals” features Mick Talbot on which sounds a bit like a calliope on a circus wagon calling people into the show. “If I Could Pray,” sounds a bit like Dire Straits hanging out with Al Stewart. The song is performed by singer, guitarist, and mostly actor, Peter Capaldi (proving that Doctor Who really was shredding on that Fender in the Tardis).
Humanism is a great title for this record because the music and musicians are demonstrating that people from all over the globe can get along and create beauty together. It makes me long for the day when we can gather with friends again, toss around ideas and create art.
Until that day, wash your hands, wear a mask and stay safe.