July 14, 2024

The Ashton Jones Project – “Toast” – It toasts your ass and sets your soles on fire

FLASH TOWN RECORDS  13th September 2019

Ashton Jones is a very promising soul and funk artist, based on the evidence of this debut album. It toasts your ass and sets your soles on fire. A really strong voice ranges from gritty, impassioned punches to smooth croons to love-lorn falsetto. Songs range from the outrageously funky to the smooth ballad to the win-that-heart soul blaster.

‘Shelley, Got The Funk Out Of Here’ is a great and funky, horn-punctuated work-out. Added to the brilliant spoken break, it is worth the entrance price on its own: “I’d like to take you to the promised land….where you can spend all of your money on life’s most precious commodities – expensive jewellery, celebrity endorsed eye make up and botox. So you can be as fake on the outside as you are on the inside”. The funky vocals are tight and intense, as is the playing. Similarly, ‘Hard Work Dedication’ funks very hard indeed, punching and sweating, as does ‘Good Thing Guaranteed’, with its ‘wacka-wacka’ guitar sound.

Elsewhere, the album leans more to classic soul, with a funky edge. I’m hearing flavours of Earth Wind and Fire, alongside the funky opener’s Prince influence. ‘How I Feel’ is direct from the seventies, all smooth and full of feeling. Gorgeously produced, this is simply perfect. That voice is exceptionally punchy and soulful. These are original songs and dip into timeless strands of soul, such as the lovers ballad of ‘I Need Love’, running the vocals from soft to falsetto to warm and deep, all in one song. The closer, ‘When You’re With Me’, with an undertone of huskiness, invites a slow end-of-the-night dance and also the hitting of the repeat button on the album.

Is it a recreation of a bygone trope or a continuation of a proud tradition? I don’t know – what I do know is this album gave me a deep pleasure as if Earth Wind and Fire had worked with Stevie Wonder and got Prince in for a guest-spot.

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