Got to Feel, the first full-length studio effort from Greeley-based soul outfit The Burroughs, deserves a place on the shelf between the likes of Parliament Funkadelic and Sly & The Family Stone. The record is packed with old-school soul grooves that pound through a listener’s ears and into his/her feet. The album was recorded at Mighty Fine Productions in Denver, Colorado with engineer Colin Bricker and will be released January 9th, 2018.
The band features a four-piece horn section comprised of trumpeter Alec Bell, alto saxophonist Briana Harris, baritone saxophonist Hayden Farr and trombonist Jeremy Falist. Bassist Brian Claxton and drummer Mary Claxton create thick, funky pockets supplemented by Tom Amend’s keys and Sean Hogemeister’s guitar. Johnny Burroughs takes the lead vocal duties on most tracks.
“Solution,” the opening cut, begins with a driving groove built around a brisk bass line, a sustained organ rhythm and infectious horn parts. After a brief bass/drum breakdown, a rhythm guitar line enters, forming a pocket for the verse. The vocalists trade soulful lines that embody the Sly influence. Later, a vocal jam unfolds over sparse bass and a quarter-note drum part. It is a classic soul opening to a new soul record.
But the album stretches its soul fabric in a number of ways.
“Seismic Symphony” opens with a spacious drum part enriched by shakers. Burroughs’ vocal line drips with haunting anticipation. A subtle, dreamy organ part enters on the second pass of the verse. Burroughs adopts a well-executed Michael Jackson-esque falsetto for the chorus. A cymbal crash precipitates an ethereal section featuring a synthesized orchestral string line, which cradles sleepy horn parts that could have come straight out of a jazz ballad. A lilting electric guitar part enters on the second chorus.
“Losing My” develops around alto vocals that meld the styles of Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse. These vocals crest and fall between synthesized organ pulses accented by bass and cymbals. A second alto vocal track adds harmonies on verse two and remains present thereafter. Ascending horns and airy key fills join on the second pre-chorus. The second chorus proper leads into a breakdown anchored by hand claps and an organ rhythm part and ornamented by robust horn fills.
“Oh My What Will Be” begins with soulful vocals accompanied only by a deep drum part. A gravelly, distorted line joins later, adding a heaviness that is, at once, tempered and augmented by staccato keys and bell-like synth tones. At one point, a loose call-and-response develops between the vocal lines and high synth keys.
“Listen” opens with a synthesized orchestral string part supplemented by alto vocals. Then, a guitar fill leads into a funky, spacious pocket anchored by bass and rhythm guitar. The motif with which the song begins returns multiple times. Its third reprise carries a distant, distorted quality complemented by a variety of atonal synth noises, and its last reprise incorporates resonant horn fills.
The final cut, “Touch the Sky,” builds itself around a heavy, distorted guitar riff that spreads over a bluesy organ rhythm. Later, a primal scream ushers in a scorching guitar solo. In a parting nod to Sly, a vocalist screams “take you higher” towards the end of the song.
So, a pair of worthy, groovy soul tunes bookend Got to Feel. The rest of the album never abandons The Burroughs’ soul roots, but demonstrates the band’s willingness and ability to employ textures not typically found in the genre and to apply soul sensibilities across various types of songs.