Smokey Joe & The Kid - Running To The Moon (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
SMOKEY Joe & The Kid are two killer beat masters from Bordeaux, passionate about hip hop, bass music and groovy melodies from the early 20th Century. It’s a combination of passions that make for an eclectic musical listen, as evidenced early on from the way in which they blend samples from movie classic O Brother, Where Art Thou? with hip-hop beats and 20s jazz swing melodies.
Sound interesting? You bet. And we’re just talking about the first track on their album, Running To The Moon, the slick Ouerture (Prayer), which neatly lays the groundwork for what follows.
The film sampling is likely to bring a wry smile to the face (and is early evidence of Smokey Joe’s playfulness), while the slick hip-hop beats are pure old-skool hip hop (the good kind).
And the album continues to deliver tracks to savour from there. Title offering Running To The Moon, for instance, combines toe-tapping beats with slick jazz and a bluesy central vocal that fits oh-so nicely. It’s a class act.
Just Walking opens with another breezy slice of 20s jazz before dropping another insanely addictive beat and some lyrical flow from Miscellaneous (one half of Chill Bump). It lends the track a little more edge and urban attitude than the two previous ones, perhaps even lowering the tone. But it’s so alive with instrumentation and samples that you can’t help but be addicted.
If there is a criticism to be levelled at the album as a whole, it’s that it works less successfully (or all-inclusively) when placing the hip-hop to the fore, as with the Pigeon John featuring Six Feet Below (which nevertheless still drops a slick beat and some nice sampling).
But while those kind of tracks certainly play more to the die-hard hip-hop brigade, there’s always another crossover doozy waiting in the wings. Hence, the likes of Bank Holiday (featuring sultry vocal harmonies from Ua Tea and some Mediterranean guitar licks) is a day-dream of a record; Funny Guy thrives on its winning sampling from that “funny how?” classic scene from Scorsese’s Goodfellas and some funky brass, and Prohibition wins you over with some tinkling piano chords, and spliced jazz/hip-hop beats. It’s also distinctly French vocally.
Further tracks to look out for come from So Sexy (featuring Blake Worrell), the urgent Please Come Home (which drops one of the most thrilling mash-ups on the whole LP, comparable with the cinema-baiting funk of The Heavy), and the laidback hip-hop and whimsical lyricism of Yesterday Is Gone (featuring Waahli).
Above all, though, it’s the playful enthusiasm with which everything is delivered that makes Running To The Moon such a standout album… and a feel-good extravaganza to boot. If you’re looking for a conversation-starting party album to enliven the summer BBQ or beach scene, then look no further…
Download picks: Ouerture (Prayer), Running To The Moon, Bank Holiday, Funny Guy, Prohibition, Please Come Home, Yesterday Is Gone