The Quickening is another in a long line of stellar funk bands to come out of New Orleans, and while they mine that deep well of classic New Orleans funk, they are neither tethered to nor bound by its tradition. This is an adventurous band that is not afraid to take risks as they fly loose and fast while exploring a myriad of funky realms and rhythms. Of course having a solid in the pocket rhythm section makes it all possible.
Throughout Begin Again, Jeff Lani (drums) and Al Small (bass) provide a consistent rock-steady groove that allows the band to turn on a dime and dive deep into any funky rhythms they feel the need to explore. Rachel Murray (vocals) shares vocals with Blake Quick (guitar, vocals), and “shares” is really an apropos way to describe it as they often meld into a singular presentation. Quick does a wonderful job juggling classic funky rhythms while exploring more jam-like textures on guitar as Joe Bouché fills in all the right spaces on keyboards and Dave Easley (pedal steel) manages to provide complementary soundscapes while taking the music to places traditional funk bands just cannot envision.
Right out of the gate The Quickening set the stage for what is to come throughout the remainder of Begin Again. “Funk 2U” provides ample space for Dave Easley to show off his chops and let you know that this isn’t your typical funk outfit while Jani, Small and Blake Quick create danceable grooves.
The band covers a lot of ground on “Joey the Vape” as they twist and turn through various tempos and grooves reminiscent of Yes or Rush before settling into a beautiful passage highlighting Blake Quick and Dave Easley sounding like the classic twin guitars of Camile Baudoin and Dave Malone. This is heady yet accessible music.
On “Interplanetary Muse,” Quick delivers a rhythm reminiscent of the Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World” while Easley explores sonic textures worthy of the song’s title.
Jeff Lani delivers a delicious street beat on “Grapetown Breakdown” as Quick provides a stinging rhythm attack that allows Easley and Joe Bouché to work out some killer funky fun.
With the exception of “Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky” the album is comprised of all original material. The Quickening’s rendition of the Toussaint/Dorsey classic clearly shows that funk is alive and well in New Orleans. Murray delivers an excellent vocal performance while Easley hints at late-era Jerry Garcia on pedal steel as the band effortlessly honors the past while pushing the funk forward.