It’s been two years in the making but Murfreesboro’s resident funk/soul nonet, Sky Hi, has spent their time juggling tremendous live shows with life outside of the band and, thank God, studio time as they worked out their much-anticipated second full-length LP Testify, released out of GED Soul Records late this October. To think all we’ve had to work with for a while was the “Junkyard Dog” 45 released late December last year, but now it’s time to breathe easy once. Breathe easy to get down.
The 11-track release is unmistakable Sky Hi from the first few seconds: the funk groove of the guitar and bass intertwined with the hi-hat driven beat to set the foundation for Murfreesboro’s finest horn section, the long vibrato and funk-punch of the organ, as well as Dee Adams’s unmistakable voice tirelessly running up and down.
Even though the band has gone through some lineup changes over the years, the name Sky Hi seems to hold onto its particular brand of big-funk as a growing entity itself, regardless of members. The first track from Testify, “Junk Yard Dog,” singled out as the early early 45 teaser, stands as a perfect example of the sound they’ve made their own, making it an appropriate opening track greeter from the band.
After the greeter, however, that theory weakens slightly hearing evident exploration further into their craft as the album progresses. The arrangement of the horn line and organ have grown more complex and powerful since their self-titled five years ago (the title track is proof positive of that as well as brilliantly self-explanatory), and the fellows get around in Testify, too, dabbling a little in reggae on “Do Not Want” and then taking it into a Latin shuffle later in “Fell Short,” where the horn line manages to “throw” their sound down the line like in some Hawaii Five-0 music as Dee is obviously giddy, throwing his voice up and down the fifty some-odd octaves in that man’s neck; just having a good time. It’s always great to hear these guys when you’re having a bad day.
Dee’s lyrics are as solid as the music throughout, too, mainly focusing on the little repressions life can dish out and dealing with them with a strong stance of self-worth be it in love, substances or survival. You have to keep yourself up, man.
So, keep your ears to the ground for Sky Hi live shows in the area if you haven’t seen them yet. The next one coming up is on December 8 at The Basement in Nashville with The Coolin’ System and AJ and the Jiggawatts. Copies of Testify as well as show schedules, news, and if you want to bring your house down, booking information, too, can be found on the band’s fanpage, skyhifunk.com, or through their Facebook profile.