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KG Omulo | (Ayah ye!) Moving Train

album review by John Powell

KG Omulo | (Ayah ye!) Moving Train

There’s something about terms like “urban Afro-funk” that sound much like they are: pulsing rhythms, layers of percussion, horns, and music that is both inviting and like powerful punches of musical precision. KG Omulo’s premier album, Moving Train, is super organic sounding, almost like it was all live in the studio. The band is tight, the feel loose. The vibe of KG’s music has been compared to Bob Marley, which I vouch for, although he’s no reggae artist, he’s urban Afro-funk! The sound comes from both his homeland and his inspiration from the Florida club scenes. Needless to say, it’s something pretty groovy.

The first couple of seconds of the opener, “Intervention”, are misleading. The electric guitar stings in almost like a Stevie Ray Vaughn song, something tripping blues over funk, but the horns cool everything down pretty quickly. In classic Afrobeat prescription, one guitar spends the entire song cruising over a riff while the drum kit seems like Animal is behind it. KG’s voice has a thick accent, but he’s totally understandable, and that fact makes the worldly music approachable. He simply has a great singing voice, neither strained nor restrained. The cover of Moving Train has him in a white suit with a fedora- and that’s exactly what his voice is like. He’s a bridge between worlds.

Next on the album is the title track, with KG taking on organ, which has this gnarly riff that is too fun. KG bounces between English and his native Swahili. “You’re killing me inside,” he sings on the chorus; “What’s on your mind?” It’s sexy, slinky, and for a funk song of this nature, quite stripped down. The organ is turned really high, the horns mid, and the guitars and bass low. It’s an interesting mix, but it works.

On first listen, Moving Train feels all over the place, sometimes rich and thick with sound and other times lighter, but within three listens of the album in its entirety the songs are connected by the band’s swinging layers and lyrical themes of what Home is and how to have a good time, without putting anyone else down, string the songs together wonderfully.

And some tracks are wickedly catchy, but not in any conventional pop sense. “Cleary Boulevard” has a stop-start groove with horns swooning and bass chiming in now and again. The drums snap like hand claps and Nathan Anderson takes on rock flute. What’s not to love?

While Moving Train is not a reggae album, some songs tack on one drop beats and counter rhythm strokes that tempt the style while keeping it funky. “Ready To Love” is one of these tracks. The horns cascade down the scale between KG’s smooth crooning. “This is spiritual/this is incredible/this is magical/this is unbelievable,” KG shouts on the bridge before a searing guitar solo.

“It’s A Relief” also has a similar island feel, very old school, with the horns taking on a ska-filled rhythm and a fluffy organ solo. “Walkway” blends the same vibe with a more ethereal, atmospheric sound.

A key track is “Stop Me Now”, complete with a string section and lengthy bass runs, creating a more indie, rock vibe. The shortest song on the album, KG’s repetitive “Stop me now,” and “I need all the help I can get,” makes it an earnest call for aid. The strings pull at this theme. It’s got soul.

But the undeniably excellent track is “Quality Women”, with the band having a blast leaning on a four-note guitar and bass riff, the drums frolicking, and the horns singing alongside KG. He leaves complex lyrics at home for this one. He speaks over the jam, “You’re all so beautiful/Dance your problems away,” and then David Skey takes over on sax, seething with funk like a baby with back sweating herself into bliss.

KG spends the whole time singing and talking about how great women are. And yet, unlike most songs of this nature, jams so sexy they get people onto the dance floor, there’s no degrading of women down to physical appearance. KG never calls them bitches or uses too easily translatable metaphors. He calls them Quality Women, and this is what makes Moving Train a great album. Before you know it, he’s been respectful, honest, and never demeaning or stroking his own ego.

Bottom line: KG Omulo has striven to make the best debut he was capable of, and the heart and soul of the album shines through. Highly recommended.


0 # dianne 2012-01-16 11:40
I went to the cd realese was a fantastic turn out.
ready to Love is one of my favorites on the albulm.
KG has work hard on this and Im excited for everyone else to hear his music.

Great job kg...My deserve this!!


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