CD Review: The Brand New Heavies - Sweet Freaks

The Brand New Heavies return with a new singer and a classic sound.
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The Brand New Heavies are back with a brand new lead singer. Dawn Joseph, who shared vocals on 2013's Forward, takes over as lead vocalist on the band's newest album, Sweet Freaks. The singer may be new, but the sound isn't. This is a fun record steeped in 1970s disco and funk grooves and melodies.

Opening track "Sweet Freeek," mixes horns with a 1970s disco vibe. It's an infectious melody that sticks in your head from the first listen. The band gives a James Brown feel to Peter Gabriel's classic, "Sledgehammer." While Joseph's vocals lack the intensity of Gabriel's original, the group's musical reinterpretation makes for a fun reimagining of this track.

The band goes up-tempo on the dance workout, "In The Name Of Love." Joseph gives a sultry vocal on this horn-infused track. Drummer Jan Kincaid shares lead vocals on "'95 Tonight" with Joseph. His laid back voice contrasts nicely with her more powerful singing style. The song has a smooth, dance groove.

"Pleased To Meet Ya" finds the band offering a Stax-style soul track. Punctuated by horns, the song is a standout with some tasteful sax from Jim Hunt. Here and throughout the album, the band shows they are masters at locking into great grooves. This is evident on the hard funk of "Get On." A great dance track, it features a strong vocal from Joseph.

If there is a misstep on the album, it is "Self Portrait." It's one of the few tracks that veers from the up-tempo dance grooves and is a sort of jazzy funk track. Still, it's one song out of 11. The album ends strongly with "Don't Let Go." Joseph gives a soulful vocal on this excellent closer.

On Sweet Freaks, The Brand New heavies have transitioned into a new singer effortlessly. The album is an infectious mix of dance tracks that recall the 1970s, and what's wrong with that?