From the mid-80s and throughout the 90s a band named Brand New Heavies were the pioneers of the Acid Jazz and Funk movement that swept through the United Kingdom. Their self titled debut album, The Brand New Heavies, saw them make a significant marker in the music scene with the single Never Stop.
A significant component of that sound was the saxophone and keyboard skills of Jim Wellman, one of the founding members of the group. Those of you familiar with those sounds will be happy to hear that Wellman has returned with a new solo album named Dawn To Dusk. This LP is a great throwback to a sound rarely popularised and rarely heard – music some have deemed forgotten in today’s culture.
This is a welcome and smooth reprisal of a 90s sound unfortunately buried by the millennial generation’s lust for music with minimal substance. Dawn To Dusk is a concept album that looks closely at modern social orders.
Talking about the idea behind the album, Wellman explains: “The album is social commentary, but viewed through perspectives of human psychological evolution, and analysis of mass communication and propaganda. The core of the work is the understanding that Man lives in a world of amazing technological development, but is still encumbered with medieval forms of government by representatives who serve mainly the interests of the elite.”
Opening track Lucy stands out automatically and his you with its groove, akin to the likes of Jamiroquai and Simply Red. The lyrics on this are particularly deep for a song that feels destined for dancefloors, touching on evolution of mankind and the modern state of play.
The following tracks Lewontin Campbell, Probably Good, Premature Truth are more chilled and laid back, allowing the soul to seep through on a higher conscience level. The latter of the aforementioned has a fantastic voice over moment that works fantastically over the instrumental. Probably Good is the hooky lead single with a lovely melody that sounds similar to Wham’s Last Christmas. Give it a listen:
The concept and intelligence of this album makes sense and flows well. Themes reoccur and make more sense as the LP progresses, Feedback is another standout track instrumentally with an impressive composition and a narrative that ties things together. The album ends well with Let The People Rule Ya, perhaps one of the most poignant finishes to an album you’re likely to hear in terms of fitting the concept of an album and continuing a narrative.
Dawn To Tusk is enjoyable overall but the most impressive aspect of it is the message that runs from start to finish. Each song is purposely placed to complete a story and no track feels thrown in for the sake of making up the numbers. Negatively, this sound will not resonate now as it did in the 90s, however it doesn’t mean it cannot be enjoyed for what it intends to be. A shoutout should go out to some of the featured singers on this, most noticeably Judy La Rose, Tara and Terron.
Listen to the Dawn To Tusk trailer video below: