In the tradition of the large-scale funk outfits that may have seen some confusion regarding their planet of origin, Mama K & The Shades have found a truly cosmic niche in the Austin scene. On their latest, “Honey Made,” the journey laid out by the group ranges from shorter, animated, punchy numbers to a longer-form elasticity of the traditional funk gauntlet, with stops at seemingly everything in between.
Through David Thacker’s extraterrestrial keys and Kelsey Garcia (the titular Mama K’s) extensive vocal capabilities, The Shades transform their sound the neo-rhythm and blues students to an outfit learned in the way of The Meters and George Clinton’s regalia of sounds. With a sound less focused on the mysticism of the genre and one with its sites on the poly-layered craft itself, the large ensemble stills finds room for each of the Shades to get their footing while joining a commune of sound.
“Like a Fool” is a bonafide row with a lover, making one’s stomach drop to their seat while propelling their hearts into their throats just as quickly. “Main Squeeze” is a Sun Sessions cut gone down to Fat Tuesday and coming back with a new sense of purpose. Closing with the 11-minute “Hot,” Mama K & The Shades reimagine a Meatloaf epic in a world of brass and Birdland.
“Honey Made” succeeds best in following the format of orthodox soul-fusion combos with a release that never has an exhausted moment. Just Like The Killer’s option of “no filler,” the m.o. of Mama K & The Shades is just that.