Galactic – Into the Deep (ALBUM REVIEW)


galacticGalactic is a live machine, but they take it slow releasing studio albums which have been hit and miss in the past – most likely because their live shows deliver the goods.

However, their last two studio offerings Ya-Ka-May and Carnivale Electricos  were concept albums dedicated to expanding the current New Orleans sound out from the all night parties and smoky bars of the Big Easy to the unsuspecting masses. Both albums found the band on its strongest studio footing to date, glorifying their hometown with a slew of local guest talent (from Allen Toussaint to Big Freedia), continuing their funk roots, but adding in that diverse honest gumbo that made everything authentic, engaging and a damn good time.

On Into The Deep the band has polished up the grime from the gutters of the Bywater and made an album more worldly sounding. This is by design as electro leaning production was handled in house by bassist Robert Mercurio and saxophonist Ben Ellman. Less concept, more of just a collection of smooth grooving tracks that touches all the genre labels. While not as structured as their recent successfully offerings it still flows easily and contains some shining moments.

The band immediately puts it’s instrumental funk stamp on things with tracks like “Long Live Borgne” and opener “Sugar Doosie” which lives up to it’s name. This is clearly Galactic’s record but like any Galactic album the guests are vital. JJ Grey tries to cram all styles of blues, gospel, hard rock and soul into “Higher and Higher” with messy results before the light bounce of “Dolla Diva” finds David Shaw and Maggie Kerner helping out. That is the closest the album comes to Hip-Hop, one genre the band surprisingly decided to avoid this outing.

“Buck 77” is an electronic tinged jam while “Domino” is a tepid run through by guest Ryan Montbleu all before a catchy country/reggae/groove comes by to say hello with Brushy One String helping out. The gospel/blues shine bright and crisp with Mavis Staples taking gorgeous lead vocals on “Does It Really Make A Difference” while the title track is a straight ahead string laden anthem sung by Macy Gray with a power that challenges the elder stateswoman Staples.

The show stealer though is (not surprisingly)  local vocalist Charm Taylor, who spices up the tribal drumming/funk jazz horned/club party jam “Right On” a testament to getting down. It is a perfect New Orleans amalgamation of styles from its past and present. The core group focused organ lead “Today’s Blues” feels the same way, like it is arriving at sunrise to close out a special show and while the guests come and go Galactic seems to have found an album pattern to stick with.

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