I want to know where The Bamboos have been all my life. Seriously, I thought Medicine Man was only their second or third studio album, not their SEVENTH. In any case, the material on this album make it one of my favourite records of the year and I’d recommend you all get to it somehow, in its physical or digital form – you won’t be disappointed.
It is a record soaked in funk and soul riffs and beats, and the list of guest vocalists on the track listing is simply superb. Collaborator Megan Washington’s smoky and enunciated vocals on both “Eliza” and on the cover of James Blake’s “The Wilhelm Scream” provides some of the softer and more delicate moments on the record; it’s refreshing to hear her distinctive voice against some music which is quite different in genre and arrangement than what we’re used to. The talent of the musicians that make up The Bamboos is the thing that shines through the strongest on Medicine Man - the horns and deep funk behind the percussion do run the risk of making the whole album a simple regurgitation of some classic early-70s record, but they remain perfectly arranged, strong and understated where appropriate.
“I Got Burned” featuring Tim Rogers is one of my favourites; I love the gritty and slightly sleazy feel behind the blues guitar and Rogers’ vocals…it’s irresistible. When you’ve got this at one end of the spectrum and the soul infused “Where Does the Time Go” with Aloe Blacc, it’s truly hard to ignore the quality of the record. Each song has a heavy dose of love injected into it and the passion these musicians have put into their craft, seven records into their career is clearly still going strong. If only the guest vocalists could join the band on every leg of their upcoming national tour; it would be one of my highlights of the year.
Review Score: 9.0 out of 10