The best and worst about Sky Hi is that they tend to forego the full-length for the sweet little 45. It was a year ago that they released Sweetie Pie, a two-song recording that liquefied soul and funk—in a hot and sugary mess of horns, sax and organ—and dripped it onto a piece of vinyl. Their new 45, Junkyard Dog, also released through G.E.D. Soul Records, has been around for a few months, and it mirrors the same magic as the previous one. These bitty vinyl numbers are fun and add to the vintage appeal, but I’m beginning to wish for more than two tracks.
On the title track, DeRobert’s vocals are big and bellowing but butter-smooth as he sings of getting over it after being on the down and out. “I been through a lot of crazy things,” he sings, and it’s believable, but a persistent bass line at the core can’t be kept down, and it’s overridden with blasts of horns that pull a listener deep into an infectious groove.
There’s a softness reminiscent of The Temptations in the music as well as DeRobert’s voice that’s countered, and complimented, by an equally significant Sly & the Family Stone edge that adds a bite; Sky Hi can’t do without either. “Junkyard Dog” has an even, cool and collected progression compared to its flip side. “Voltron’s Dance Party” opens with a loose and gurgling Hammond organ layered with dense brass and reeds that climb energetically to higher notes. It has no lyrics and there’s no need for them—as long as Sky Hi’s saxophones and horns and guitars are working, gritty funk/soul speaks for itself.