With over a month in the recording studio and painfully long hours, Simo have pushed themselves to the limit of musical endurance for their latest album Rise & Shine. Unlike the improvisational nature of their previous album, Rise & Shine was largely written of the road. Not only was their approach to the music different, the bands touring schedule formed closer bonds between them, it's almost as if the risk taking of improv has been somewhat subsumed by the building of friendships into a more close knit musical organism that is capable of not only trusting each others instincts, but also refining a sound and building on it creatively in every aspect.
The album feels like a different animal from the outset. The blues and jazz base is still there, but they have expanded their sound into a different direction incorporating soul, psychedelic and funk influences. The album is inspired by changes in society. There's a huge roots fusion on the album that embeds itself into Simo's music from the vibrant rhythms, illicit Prince inspired harmonies, smoking hot Hendrix riffs and stylish Issac Hayes ebullience ringing throughout the album. There's also a vintage feel that runs alongside a carefree hippy edge on tracks such as the shape shifting I pray and the psych rock instrumental The Climb. Simo go on to expose human vulnerabilities and fragility of relationships this time round too with the pining I Want Love and Be With You which oscillates between the tender and the darkly dissonant.
The variety of styles on the album are drawn from across the decades, there may be a retro sound present on a lot of the album – Simo are after all, hugely influenced by the 70s, but there's a gutsy modernity that is also applied alongside on the funkadelic People Say and Don't Waste Time. The album is progressive, exploitative and experimental. They could have easily played safe, regurgitating improvisational blues riffs and playing smooth rock riffs - but where's the challenge in that for musicians this capable? With nowhere left to go, Simo haven't so much widened their sound as moved
in to a different dimension.
Groupie Rating 4/5