Wednesday 15 March 2023

'Seconds' by Hot Mustard

'Seconds' marks the new album release from South Carolina collective Hot Mustard continuing their relationship with the always boundary-pushing Color Red Records.

With a nucleus comprised of producer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Jack Powell along with bassist and keys player Nicholas Carusos, Hot Mustard introduced their unique concoction of dusty 60s and 70s analog era soul music but finding just as much inspiration from hip-hop's golden era.  In fact, particularly in regards to the group's earlier recordings, you can almost imagine luminaries like Pete Rock and The RZA fighting over the vinyl of 'Mother Sauce' believing it to be an authentic and forgotten 70s funk gem each with designs on using it as the building blocks for future classics.

Released in 2021, 'Mother Sauce' was constructed around the Powell-Carusos duo with more than a little help from Antibalas trumpeter Jordan McLean and TV On The Radio trombonist Dave "Smootha" Smith.  Over the course of the album's ten tracks, the band playfully expand on the Hot Mustard - and subsequent food and condiment - theme throughout with song titles including 'Honey Dijon', 'Mustard Stain' and 'Deli Style' but all in support of a scintillating, groove-based and authentic interpretation of classic instrumental soul music which is beaming with imagination and personality.

The imaginatively titled sophomore album, 'Seconds', continues to build upon the ideals as established through its predecessor but now seeks to elevate the project and its scope into new levels of ambition.  With Powell and Carusos both tackling more musical duties than before and showing off their revered talents, the line-up for the project also expands to cater for more artists who bring exciting new dimensions to the Hot Mustard aesthetic.  Thankfully McLean and Smith continue to bless the project with their indelible magic on horns but there is also room for contributions from Ross Bogan and Alan Brisendine on electric organs and Helen Gillet on cello.  'Low Boy' as a song serves as an excellent example of a track enhanced beautifully through these additional contributors with a notable turn by Gillet who transforms the composition into something particularly sublime.

Vocalist Kendall Coyer from The Intuitions shines on the album's bonus track, 'Naked When You Come', while Alanna Royale also makes a fantastic contribution to 'Seconds' with a stellar performance on the album's gleaming highlight... 'The End of Time'.  A couple more featured spots from Royale and Coyer would have been more than welcome but the tracks throughout boast so much charm and character that the contrast of styles just adds to the overall presentation.  

From sweet soul to cinematic breakbeats, 'Seconds' plays like Hot Mustard's love letter to a bygone era of soul music and, at the same time, a scintillating perception of the genre's future. 

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