Consisting in part of several members of the late Charles Bradley’s backing band The Extraordinaires, the incredibly talented Ikebe Shakedown present another collection of uplifting, enervating instrumental soul with new album Kings Left Behind. Their first in half a decade, the ensemble evoke mystical elements with their hard-hitting sound.
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'Instrumental soul?' I hear you cry, "why, that's like a sandwich with no filling, a falconer with no falcon, Sleaford with no Mods". I hear you loud and clear but fear not, Ikebe Shakedown's new record 'Kings Left Behind' allows oft-neglected elements in traditional soul music to come to the fore.
Ikebe Shakedown are a self-deemed 'cinematic instrumental soul' group that have been going for over a decade and don't show signs of letting up any time soon. Their new album 'Kings Left Behind' shows why they've got such staying power.
When listening to an amazing soul voice like Nina Simone, Lee Fields, or Aretha Franklin, the instrumentation melts away to merely provide a platform for the singer to do their thing. Who's going to notice the gorgeous interplay of the Hammond organ and melodic guitar lines on 'Bad Girl' when Lee Moses is weeping into his microphone? This is exactly why it's good to hear the arrangements breathe on 'Kings Left Behind'. The beautifully tentative trumpet motif on the title track may have been lost if there was singing over it.
There's a great clarity to the songs which demonstrates how long Ikebe Shakedown have playing together. On 'Over My Head' you can hear the melodic lines of saxophone, guitar, and strings co-existing in a way that doesn't feel clumsy or muddy. Vitally, it's not that one main instrument takes the place of voice as focal point of the track.
'Kings Left Behind' proves that the essence of great soul music isn't entirely in the vocal performance. It's an entirely democratic record.
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