Kate Becker: Soft Revolution (Old Bisbee) 

Kate Becker's band plays some serious funk, but her voice is all about jazz and blues. The combination is beguiling—and it doesn't hurt that Becker's backing band regularly hits the sweet spot, playing R&B rhythms so subtly that it seems almost effortless.

Becker is fully in charge of the proceedings, but credit for Soft Revolution must be shared with Stuart Oliver, who also happens to run Old Bisbee Records. Oliver produced, engineered and mixed the disc, and he contributes guitar, keyboards, mandolin, occasional songwriting and light, high harmonies. Bassist Mike Hieber and drummer Aaron Emery make a nimble rhythm section.

Becker's songwriting invokes a sense of nondenominational spirituality and positive, healing vibrations—she refers to the sacred Tohono O'odham site of Baboquivari Peak, as well as to Eckhart Tolle—and her smoky alto is a warm, intimate companion on the journey. Many of the tunes might be considered new-age, especially the title track and "A New Groove," which refers not so much to a change in music, but in attitude.

Dynamic funky dance grooves on tracks such as "Perfect Storm," "Magik" and "Superstar" dominate the proceedings. But there are notable exceptions, like the restrained folk-pop of "No Wings Are Needed Here," which builds to a charming, fusion-style crescendo; "Honey Child," with its chugging alt-country boogie; and the hypnotic "Roots and Stars," which verges on jazz-raga.


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