Nostalgia 77 ‘A journey too far’ (Tru Thoughts) 4/5 CD/LP/Dig

Nostalgia77Enterprising Brighton-based label Tru-Thoughts has showcased some of the very best in British and European talent in recent years with Quantic and Alice Russell rightly garnering critically acclaimed reviews. A constant in the catalogue has been the work of collective Nostalgia 77 who oscillate between instrumental jazz with a radical edge and vocal-led numbers that have enabled various vocalists to shine and they of course include Alice Russell who has regularly guested for the band. For the latest album, Nostalgia 77,for whom this is the fifth studio album (though they have recorded several in a live context), have opted for shorter pieces that showcase the vocals of German singer Josa Peit and there is more of a folk influence to their already eclectic sound which here also takes on neo-soul and even Afro-Beat flavours. A particular favourite and deserving of release as a single is ‘Your love weighs a tonne’ which could just have been an unreleased number from Amy Winehouse, so catchy is the song. The group have long been appreciated for their instrumental pieces and ‘Backlash’ is well up to standard with 1970s style electric piano and Afro-Beat sounding horns. Classic soul is clearly a strong influence on the group’s repertoire and ‘Backlash Rose’ has all the feel of an Aretha Franklin Muscle Shoals session with some deeply soulful vocals. Hypnotic Latin-inflected piano vamps permeate ‘Medicine Chest’ which is another strong melodic piece. There has been a conscious decision on the part of the band to expand their influences and the orchestrations of David Axelrod and Serge Gainsbourg are subtly weaved into the heady mix. One looks forward to hearing the extended octet in a live setting. Tim Stenhouse