Funk took a trip down South
By - Mike Joyce
Friday, Apr. 13, 2012
Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds aren't about to clean up their act anytime soon. Brooklyn-bred and Memphis-inspired, the nine-piece band revels in unvarnished funk, the grittier the better.
"Pound of Dirt," the ensemble's second release, is the kind of studio session that should translate easily to the stage. In fact, midway through this 12-tune collection you might find yourself thinking that the Dirty Birds, like many of their role models, have to be seen in concert to be fully appreciated. Even so, for the most part, "Pound of Dirt" raucously underscores the band's promise and strengths.
Sister Sparrow, Arleigh Kincheloe's nom de disque, is a soul queen with a voice strong and raspy enough to compete with riffing horns and clipped funk beats. Offering ample proof of that are the up-tempo standouts "Make It Rain," "Too Much" and "Lasso." Jackson Kincheloe, the lead singer's brother, adds touches of blues harmonica here and there, most notably on the chugging, cross-harp instrumental "Bulldozer."
The songs, all originals, are a cut above the funk band average, and the influence of Memphis Stax and other Southern soul sounds is as unmistakable as it is invigorating. What's more, when the mood shifts to a slippery brand of pop-funk on "Millie Mae," Sister Sparrow proves that she doesn't need to turn up the volume to grab your attention.