Kenny Wesley probably isn't a name you're familiar with, unless you're a die-hard “So You Think You Can Dance” fan. However, with his debut album The Real Thing, Wesley has immediately established himself as a serious -and seriously fun- artist who's looking to bring funk back.
Welsey influences are undeniable – half the tracks on this album sound like great 70s funk, in the vein of Parliament or the Jacksons, with a heaping helping of current-day synthesizers on top. Wesley shines on these tracks, such as Real Thing and Taffy, with some down-and-dirty fuzz guitar riffs and hot drumming that make head-bobbing a virtual necessity.
Koriander is the New New Nashville.
The band itself says eclecticism, from Trip Ace's veterans A.J. Gonzalez (guitar) and Andy Lewis (bass), laying down solid melodics and backbones, to the talented and storied E. J. Ford on keyboards, who's list of previous engagements includes Herschel Bailey, Clarence Dobbins and Damien Horne of Muzik Mafia fame. Driving the ensemble are Daniel Osborne's tight-slapping country rock back-beats.
Overlay this with the growling vocals and stylish, witty writing of singer and songwriter Erin Ashleigh, and you have a power house of groove, composition and just good fun. Whether it's Boys Night Out, leaning toward roadhouse honky-tonk but with a post-feminist hook saying it's a woman's world too, or the more introspective, emo-inflected Me and Jack, Ashleigh's vocals move between grit and tenderness, deepened and enhanced by the highly talented ensemble's versatility and sensitivity. Do It With You hearkens to the musical roots of Koriander's hometown, Nashville, with a 90s country groove overlain by strains of sweet banjo and fiddle that pay homage to the 60s and 70s, the 'golden days' of country.
And if any song highlights the Ashleigh's prodigious and easy writing talent, it's the oddly titled Stand Over My Plants, in which she hilariously tells her beau to stand over her plants while he cries, so his tears won't be a total waste.
Koriander is a collection of influences and talents that are the state of new country music. How they come together, however, is a sound all their own.