In his latest incarnation, the ever-morphing Jon Epworth has fully submerged himself in the sound and aesthetic of classic soul to create a musical persona of a calibre that would nestle sublimely between Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings or Charles Bradley on a well-curated festival schedule. The immensely talented multi-instrumentalist and highly malleable songwriter (check out his brilliant one-man King Crimson album as Failure Epics) leaves the fret, key and stick work to a top-notch backing band aptly dubbed the Miracle Sweat, freeing him to fully unleash his absurdly powerful voice.
The potency, expressiveness and range of Epworth's vocals can't be overstated. This man can wail like James Brown or Robert Plant, then comfortably dip into the buttery heart-tugging emotional resonance of the aforementioned Sharon Jones, or, dare I suggest it, Aretha Franklin.
Epworth's reflective, confessional lyrical introspection jibes (and jives) well with the expertly constructed throwback sound — complete with classy horn harmonies, warm backing vocals and sophisticated key signature modulations underused by many a modern songwriter.
Whether this cathartic soul workout is a one-off look back while pushing forward or the launching of a new island of sound to explore as time and the creative muse permits, Jon Epworth's Miracle Sweat is a divine endeavour. (Independent)