Family Dinner – Volume Two by Snarky Puppy
Following on from their collaborations with the Metropole Orkest, this latest release sees the pups branching out from the traditional jazz-fusion instrumentation.
As with Family Dinner – Volume 1, every track features singers ranging in vocal and lyrical styles such as folk, pop, funk. Some of these songs are actually covers of songs originally written/recorded by the singers featured on them.
The cover of Laura Mvula’s ‘Sing to the Moon’ – originally strings-rich baroque pop track – incorporated some great neo-soul, jazz and fusion vibes and instrumental solos which I’m sure anyone familiar with the original (myself included) will enjoy. Furthermore, the cover of KNOWER’s ‘I Remember’ was easily amongst my favourite tracks. With its straightforward but incredibly catchy New Jack Swing-esque drums, guitars and synths and a fantastic sax solo from Jeff Coffin, it was like nothing I’d heard from the pups before. The Chris Turner cover ‘Liquid Love’, however, seems slightly unnecessary with Snarky Puppy’s sound being already stylistically similar to the original of the song.
The final track, ‘Somebody Home’ featuring David Crosby(!), is incredibly unusual for the pups too with its basic chord progressions, time signature, structure and the fact that there is very little jazz-fusion elements at all. It’s essentially a soft rock song. This simplistic approach to the music was reasonably refreshing nonetheless. I’d found the over-complicating of the music on previous Snarky Puppy LPs becoming an overused idea.
The more straight-up Snarky Puppy sounding tracks – such as ‘Molino Molero’, ‘Soro’ and ‘Don’t You Know’ – are improved by the guest vocalists and instrumentalists and the integrated stylistic elements of drone, industrial, chant and oriental music.
Overall, I would encourage Snarky Puppy to use vocalists, perform covers and occasionally simplify or diversify (without complicating) their sound more often in future as it has led to a successfully enthralling LP.