Album Review from iTunes
Hanging around the top of the Chicago world music scene for a number of years, Funkadesi put together Yo Baba, their third full-length. The band revels in their multiculturalism, with members contributing stylistic elements from around the globe and attempting to fuse them into coherent wholes. Luckily for the listener, the attempt is not so careless as many fusion groups attempting to force disparate styles into the same song. Instead, the album seemingly switches ethnicities from work to work, with only a handful of songs really incorporating more than reggae and subcontinental sounds. The album opens with a pair of bhangra-heavy pieces, thumping and clanging along the way, with just touches of reggae breakage thrown in. The album moves quickly to a more purely Cuban dance number in “Muy Cansado,” then moves into a piece of disco-inflected Bollywood, complete with a tidbit of rap in a South Indian language. A harmonium leads the way into a more traditional Punjabi folk piece, a return to Bollywood ensues in “Sharara,” and a restrained Southern funkiness (something of a weak Dr. John sound) emerges in “No Leans.” An attempt at a ballad in “Missing You” falls rather flat, as does to a lesser degree the band’s attempt to convert Marley’s classic “Stir It Up” into a slick, urban ultra lounge piece. The album only starts to pick up again as the band moves to a percussion-based piece with “Espiritu,” builds through a Bollywood ballad, and finally back into full bhangra mode in “Jo Hogaya.” The rap in “Galsun,” courtesy of Anacron, is a welcome musical addition though it feels a little derivative (Del tha Funkee Homosapien, maybe?) in its phrasing and delivery. The album closes with a fairly traditional run of guitar blues that makes up for the failings of the fuller attempt earlier in the album. It’s a bit hit and miss, but when they do hit, as in their bhangra, Funkadesi hit hard.