Oakland-based funk-soul band NO LOVELY THING is a force of nature – just ask their growing fan base at their live shows. Intense, spontaneous and highly collaborative, the band has that somewhat rare ability to bring the specialized talents of each member together to explode with a unified bang of energy.
On this, their debut EP, the band worked with esteemed Bay Area producer Jim Greer of the Rondo Brothers. A recognized hit-maker who works with up-and-comers as well as legends of their genres, Greer has been awarded a platinum record for his future-forward work with Foster the People and has also written and produced for the likes of Macy Gray and Galactic. Under Greer’s direction, the band held several pre-studio sessions. These workshops proved vital to the EP’s eventual feeling and sound, as several tracks metamorphosed into decidedly different creatures (for example, Greer dramatically pushed the tempo on lead single “Stay True”).
Elaborating on his experience with the band, Greer says,
“I was introduced to NLT by a mutual friend, and after visiting a rehearsal session I was super inspired to work with them. I’m a huge fan of female fronted funk/soul outfits, and NLT is blessed with a really talented lead vocalist who creates a mixture of poetry and melody that’s uncommon and leads the whole band to a super legit place - musically speaking.”
Throughout its musical journey, the EP, maintains a fresh, friendly vibe, flowings along colorfully in its musical whims and capricious departures. While sounding decidedly contemporary, there is a prominent nod to 60s soul with its catchy pop sensibilities. The tracks, in ways, pay homage to these tried and true formulas, yet they still feel unscripted, spontaneous and natural.
Thematically and lyrically, the EP has an honest power throughout, flirting with global politics as well as showing a softer side when addressing the topics of desire, romance and vulnerability. Leveraging Jones’ songwriting prowess and poetry background, allow for thinking about one’s purpose on this planet, exploring individual and group awareness, diversity, consciousness, identity and conviction.
Album opener “Countdown” (“Ready or not, here I come!”) has a mellow contemporary jazz feel, ideal for radio. Next up, first single “Stay True” is an infectious anthem of self-empowerment and belief in your dreams, peppered with a recurring sax riff earworm. “I’m a lover and a fighter. And just because I light my lighter for me and you, I will stay true - to me. I believe in myself. I will stay true forever.” Taking things down a notch, the leisurely waltz of “Open” showcases Jones’ penchant for poetic, yet direct lyrics, with themes of honesty and identity. It flows with ease, highlighting Jones’ gorgeous, subtle vocals and precise timing. “Here I am. I’m open. Exposing my truth.” “Better Now” is a powerful downtempo R&B love survival tale in the spirit of the classic disco tale “I Will Survive”. The track’s backbone is a downwardly cascading baseline, with wistful lead guitar atmospherics, modern jazz rhythms and prominent sax flourishes, as Jones coos, “You Used to bring me down. Now that you’re not around, I think I’m better now.” Album closer, “I’m in Love” incorporates a relaxed reggae/ska rhythm with expertly creative drums sequences. It’s a feel-good, sunny-weather-in-the-park groove, highlighted by an epic Santana-esque guitar solo at the song’s climax.
The EP was recorded live at Opus Studios in Berkeley, with the singers isolated in glass boxes, while the band jammed together in the big room. The up-and-coming studio has hosted sessions with George Clinton, Angelo Moore (Fishbone), Butterscotch and Con Brio, among others.
released March 10, 2017
Lead Vocals: Melissa Jones
guitar: John Givens
Backing Vocals: Sarah Iyer & Dan’Nelle Emerson
Drums: Kevin Crawford
bass: Milos Nikic
sax: JonAnthony Floyed-Jackson
organ + rhodes: Ron Gruesbeck
congas: Devi Genuone
Songs written by: Melissa Jones (ASCAP) & John Givens (BMI)
© & © 2017, No Lovely Thing
Recorded on June 5th, 2016
Opus Studios. Berkeley, CA
Producer: Jim Greer
Engineer: Calvin Turnbull
all rights reserved