The album gave me a flashback, if these things are possible. The way a smell might trigger a powerful feeling of nostalgia, the sound brought me back to a time when music was a catalyst for possibility, and social change was its focus.
There is a lot of funk wrapped in soul on this CD. The general themes of the album are set out in its title, Love, Doubt and Soul.
There is a lot of love on this album. The lyrics are all about it and the overall tone is ultra positive. Jesse Peters never sings the blues; his music has a much more golden hue.
To my ear, the entire album is a tonal and spiritual tribute to a feeling that was an integral part of music in the 70s.
The first thing that struck my ears was the sound of the Fender Rhodes piano.
This instrument may not mean much to you, but I grew up hearing this keyboard on all kinds of records and never really realized how much I had missed the sound of it. It’s one of the classic analog sounds that has been rendered vintage by newer digital technology.
The Fender Rhodes piano is one of the main instruments on the Paramedic CD and is played, with much love and skill, by Peters.
I thought the drumming and bass was a perfect counterpoint to the keyboard, slipping easily into rhythms that were set down by Peters. While guitarist Travis Switzer handled the bass, I was interested to see that Peters, in fact, handled the drums himself.
For instruments that are multi-tracked in the studio, this album has an extraordinarily live feel to it.
On top of the aforementioned duties, Peters also sings on all the tracks.
He has a voice suited to the songs, has a killer falsetto, and is not afraid to use it. He contemporizes the classic nature of the material by breaking into hip-hop vocals here and there with nary a bitter word spoken.
There is a cover of Stevie Wonders’ Isn’t She Lovely on the CD. While it is a great rendition and not outside the general tone of the album, I found, with the wealth of originals on the album, it seemed a bit of overkill.
That’s How It Goes, has a real edge to it. It steps on some corporate toes and the sentiment is stronger for it. It’s about as blue as Peters gets, on the CD, being one of those songs that, without being pedantic, is unafraid to shame us while at the same time educate us.
That said, the arrangements are lively and capture a familiar flavour without succumbing to sounding like a lounge act. Peters’ compositions show a deep understanding of the sound and love of the genre.
I would love to hear what they would sound like with a horn section. Can I get an “Amen!” ?
Paramedic’s Love, Doubt and Soul is available wherever local music is sold. Check them out at myspace.com/paramedicmusic.