If neo-soul in Ireland has a godfather it could well be Danny Groenland. Along with a collective of accomplished musicians – the Major 7ths – he released his impressive debut ‘Love Joints’ in 2014. ‘The Lookout’, the long awaited follow-up, sees a maturity in arrangement and production resulting in an album brimming with rich soulful sounds.
The opening track certainly gets you Believing from the off, with gorgeously layered vocals & a beautifully soulful contribution from Grainne McCarthy. There’s even treated flute solos on a track which, like most of the album, has tons going on in it, and it’s all good!
Whilst When It all Runs Out is a meditation on the wastefulness of natural resources and imbalance in the world, it has the most wonderful ’70s feel with fantastic brass & rhythm elements running through it.
Stevie Wonder, Prince, D’Angelo, Bill Withers and countless other influences are evoked all over the record, with Danny G and his crew of 16 musicians providing their own brand of uniquely stylistic neo-soul. The talented collective bring a freshness that abounds, which is gloriously infectious.
The album’s second side commences with Good Thing a track that is signposted with it’s own interlude before this uplifting song builds on an extended riff that explodes into a sing-a-long chorus that raises you up with it.
It’s not a reflection on the rest of this excellent album to say that Time is the Healer is the standout track – it’s absolutely compelling and wonderfully hook-laden (courtesy of Zaska on guitar and a polished vocal from Fehdah) that shimmers with feeling. As the title suggests, the theme of the song is about when you’ve gone through a really tough time, the pain never really goes away, but one day you’ll wake up and it doesn’t hurt as badly any more. The tracks builds from it’s opening slow funk before erupting in the repeated line “time is the healer, please be on my side”.
Elsewhere we are treated to love songs and reflections on difficult relationships, all set to a delicious funk and soul soundtrack with sublime guest appearances from the likes of Osmojam, Curran and Paj. Proceedings are brought to a conclusion with Stay At Home a simple footnote which isn’t a comment on our current situation, but one that is a comforting note on which to close.
With ‘The Lookout’, Danny G & the Major 7ths have a produced an album that is a groove-laden joy to behold, a record that delivers perfectly polished positive vibes.