For several fyears Krush has been one of the most popular and talented bands in the D.C. area. An incredible twelve members strong, the band consists of vocalists Heather Liverpool and Milton Smith, bassist J.T. Brown, guitarist Tony Cothran, keyboardist Randy Choice and David Ylvasocker, drummer Andre Thomas, percussionist Michael Friend, and a top notch horn section made up of Tommy Williams, Brad Clements, Jim McFalls and Lenny Harris.
After several years as a popular nightclub band, Krush has released its self-titled debut album on Clout Records, which is the same indie label that brought us Al Johnson's most recent CD, My Heart Is An Open Book. And there is another connection: Krush has backed Johnson on several occasions, and Johnson writes and sings on three cuts on the group's debut.
From the first note of Krush, it becomes clear that the group's sound is like little else being heard in popular music today. With a strong rhythm section and an excellent horn section reminiscent of a mid-70s Tower of Power or Average White Band, and an organic, full sound that isn't 90% programmed electronics, Krush is refreshingly old school -- and this goes a long way in distinguishing this disc from just about anything on broadcast radio. Thankfully, Krush hasn't overdone the studio wizardry on the album, instead giving an immediate, "live" feel to the group's performance throughout the disc.
The material on Krush is not all overwhelming, but the band's performance is uniformly strong. "Just Because" has a Rufus kind of feel, and Heather Liverpool gives a solid, sultry performance, as she does on the ballad "Wanna Be" (even bowing to Minnie Ripperton with her falsetto). The ballad "Solo" and funky cuts "Slippin Away" and "Sounds to the Street" also work well, and offset the disc's only clunkers - meandering covers of the Beatles' "If I Fell" and Little Anthony's "I'm On The Outside." But the album's high points are the cuts where Johnson joins the group: "Party Place" is a festive uptempo number that has received a good deal of attention and "Never Say" is a classic Johnson mid-tempo. Best of all is the Johnson-penned dance anthem "World Wide," which combines great playing and J.T. Brown's fine lead with a universal lyrical message.
Like the work of Frankie Beverly & Maze, Krush's music is neither dumbed down enough nor hooky enough to be a probable pop crossover success. Instead, it is a full-bodied, live-sounding, well played album that should find a substantial audience among lovers of funky classic soul music. Recommended.
By Chris Rizik