Funk and soul bands have a way of grabbing your attention immediately. On the new EP Way Down Deep, Bumpus grabs your attention from the very first notes.
After a couple notes on the guitar, you hear horns and an organ sound that you could hear just as easily at a rollerskating rink. You find yourself immediately moving your head even before you hear any lyrics. Once you hear Tina M. Howell's vocals, you're hooked. Howell sings with a soulful voice, which you can't help but notice. Then she unleashes a couple exclamatory howls during the song that are as good as James Brown.
The title track brings Funkadelic to mind in more ways than one. First the song is divided into two parts. "Way Down Deep, Part 1" is a groovy tune that is made to get people moving. None of the instruments remain in the background on this one. The beat drives the song, but when you hear the chorus, you pick up on the horns, the bass, and the organ equally. The tempo slows down at the bridge and the sound becomes a little psychedelic. When it returns to the chorus, the dance party is back on in full force. Part 2 takes the psychedelic sounds from the bridge of Part 1 and extends them into a full - albeit short - song. Part 2 feels a lot like the spacey songs of early Funkadelic.
The band slows down the tempo for "Keep Standing Up". The melody and tempo of this song is more reminiscent of Isaac Hayes than Funkadelic. If anything Howell's vocals are even more powerful in this song - especially at the part of the song where she is backed only by drums.
The candor in "Anything" is incredible. Howell sings about how she doesn't want to be like everyone else. The hardest-hitting lyrics in this song are "Could have been a soldier for the government, but I like to smoke a lot of weed, and I don't dig authority." It's hard not to think about Gil-Scott Heron when you hear this outspoken tune. This song is brutally honest and soulful with vocals reminiscent of Lauryn Hill. It will get you thinking while you sway to the rhythm.
Way Down Deep is an EP that provides you plenty of opportunities to move and think. On top of that it does what an EP is meant to do: it gives you a little taste and leaves you wanting more. If you like old-time funk and soul, this EP will be a great addition to your collection. Way Down Deep will be available everywhere on April 6.