Saravah Soul – Cultura Impura review

A favourite among funk fans far and wide, Saravah Soul are half-English, half-Brazilian and, well, 100% fun. Returning with their second album on Tru Thoughts, they’ve let the incredible energy of their live shows seep into the recordings, producing fast-paced soul dynamite with a carnival-esque twist. Opener “Janaina” sets the tone just right – expertly played brass that cuts straight through the mix, big choruses of Brazilian singing and piles of rolling percussion and drums.

Saravah are able to slow down, albeit briefly. “Mussum” for example is a midtempo sway through strummed acoustic guitars and cuica’s in the background. “Da Ne Mim” is also delivered at a slow and rocksteady pace, with lead singer Otto Nascarella, sax player Marcelo Andrade and bassist Matheus Nova chipping in on the vocals. But they’re at their best when they’re going at full-pelt, such as on the intense poly-rhythmic instrumental “Seu Problema” or the popcorn funk of “Se Da Do”.

An undoubted highlight though is their cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire”, which sounds like the original Stax house band tearing up a rock classic – in much the same way as Otis Redding covered The Stones’ “Satisfaction” in fact. The slightly mournful closer “The Truth Is Hard To Come By” is another top moment – combining the politically aware lyrical flair of early Specials with the sound of Cymande. Already established as a fearsome live band, Cultura Impura should cement their reputation even further.

Review: Oliver Keens