Wet Cookies Soul Protection

Vienna-based soul jazz cats Wet Cookies return with Soul Protection, a platform for the heavy-hitting vocalists and session players assembled by producer/bandleaders Björn Klein (drums) and Axel Hirn (synthesizer, Noiseshaper's ringmaster and Adrian Sherwood collaborator/engineer). Echoing the roster of their 2007 Earthling debut, WC's instruments include Fender Rhodes piano, trumpet, sax, vibraphone and flute, along with vocalists like Rocksteady's Ken Boothe, Tower of Power's Hubert Hubbs, Betty Semper and promising newcomers Abisara and Ola Egbowon. On Soul Protection, original numbers dominate the first half of the disc, like the up-tempo funk of "I Got Reasons" and "Inspired," plus Nat King Cole's "When I Fall In Love" and the funk chorus of "Doin' It Right." Within Hirn's effortless production mastery comes a unique marriage of dub to the soul jazz mix, and the latter half of the album brings the two influences together, most notably on a sly treatment of Cameo's "Word Up" on the bumpin' "Something's Changing Dub" and on the aptly titled "Unwind Dub." These are smooth, easy and not always predictable tunes. (Cat N Roof)