L.A.B VI

L.A.B VI

After releasing each of their first five records in successive calendar years, L.A.B took more time than usual to refine and record their sixth. That process included round-the-clock sessions at Wellington’s Surgery Studios during a packed touring schedule, and then choosing just 11 tracks from nearly 30 developed for the record. The resulting tunes flow together all too smoothly, while still showcasing the Aotearoa New Zealand ensemble’s modern take on reggae, soul and adjacent styles. Joel Shadbolt’s buttery vocals combine with luxurious strings and horns to evoke Hi Records-era Al Green on opener “Give Me That Feeling”, before funky guitar and a more upbeat tempo foreshadows the call-and-response peak of “Casanova”. Such natural contrast is an L.A.B hallmark: Observe how “I Believe”, a strikingly romantic duet with Māori singer Aja, is followed immediately by the frisky blues-rock hook heralding “Take It Away”. And on tracks like “Mr Rave Rider”, the players prove that they’re every bit as adept at honouring vintage reggae grooves as they are at updating and expanding upon them.

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