Here is Chris Castro’s review of Everything You Want. Chris writes for The Pier.org and reviews new album and EPs.
The Simpkin Project, like tourmates Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, are at their best when they are allowed to, simply put, let loose. Each member of the band displays unmatched instrumental prowess, marked by just how well all seven members can ride in the same pocket and vibe without stepping all over one another. It is jam-reggae at it’s finest and their latest album, Everything You Want, shows the group in tip-top shape, even if it is something of an endurance test, clocking in at about 80 minutes.
The album opens with the instrumental “Showtime” featuring Jah Horns. The track demonstrates the band doing exactly what they do best: jamming. Lead guitarist Phil Simpkin’s Allman-influenced playing is always the centerpiece, but the other band members effortlessly construct a lush, vibrant musical backdrop beneath his cool, subtle phrasing.
Almost every track is dominated by lush arrangements, steady rhythms, and Simpkin’s lead guitar work. It’s endearing to hear, especially on a long drive or any context where long-form listening is the preferred medium, but it can get taxing. Most tracks run close to 5 minutes and the album has 14 tracks. It’s a bit of a stretch and quite an endurance test if your goal is to really LISTEN to each song.
But that isn’t to say that everything sounds the same or this is an album made up entirely of ganja soaked noodling. There’s plenty of valuable songwriting here, most noticeably on “Harder,” which has fantastic Burning Spear-like vocal melodies, “Good Times,” a sunny reggae jam that sounds like the Allman Brothers vacationing in Kingston and “Only the Free” on which Simpkin ruminates on the power and dangers of free will and free speech.
Everything You Want may not exactly be everything you would expect from a reggae album, but if you’ve got time, patience and a love for improvisation-fueled groove music, it can make an excellent addition to your catalog. The group jams with maturity and confidence, and without a doubt would be a great act to see live. On record, things can get a little slow, but if you’re in no hurry, then by all means take a minute and enjoy the ride.
Written & Reviewed by: Chris Castro