With Never Too Late, the new album by Plunky & Oneness, the father-son production team, J. Plunky Branch and J. “Fire” Branch, travel together through space and time.
Together they create a provocative music-sphere of past and future funk and hip-hop jazz. Fire uses samples of some of his father’s recordings from the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, then chops, dices and splices them with hot new beats to create the tracks for Plunky’s lyrics and saxophone.
The Never Too Late album is chockfull of outrageous and contagious love songs and message music. It is not straight R&B nor straight ahead jazz, and it is certainly not street rap, but using elements of all of the above, the album creates a sonic landscape that spans a wide swath of urban music. The ambitious 16-song collection includes neo-soul, nu-jazz, and hip-hop songs about fantasy, wisdom and purposeful partying. With this album Plunky & Oneness prove that eclecticism is no vice and variety can be its own reward.
Funk is grown folks’ music. Fused with hip-hop, it can be music that delivers the word. On Never Too Late Plunky plays the role of the OG, the “Original Griot”, using lyrics to drop knowledge and to encourage and inspire. He is the “Old Guru” who spits, spouts, and speaks on philosophies of love and life, and advocates getting funky with it. The songs, riding on waves of urban rhythms, live music and deejay effects, convey lessons learned, urging us to “Be About the Future” while feeling our “Tribal Vibe” and acknowledging “We are One.”
Never Too Late, Plunky’s 25th album, is primarily new and original music; however there are two cover songs and a bonus track in the collection. The album’s first single, John Legend’s “Tonight (Best You Ever Had),” is a saxophone-led go-go instrumental with sexy female vocal hooks. Frankie Beverly’s classic, “We Are One,” also rendered as a sax and vocals combo, is still a soulful call to unifying love. The bonus track, “Tableau Noir,” is collaboration with famed French rapper, Akhenaton of the IAM Band. It is a rap song about dark times in the world being like images on a blackboard which can be erased.
The core Oneness group members breathe life into the music on the album. The sultry and soulful Charlayne “Chyp” Green is featured on vocals throughout. Young, VA-based musicians, keyboardist, J. L. Harris and guitarist, Jose Pomier, create shimmering, melodic tonal centers within the grooves. Bassist P. Muzi Branch, Plunky’s brother and long-time collaborator, is still thumping and pumping the bottom of the funk – in sync with Fire’s hip-hop beats and electronic percussion.
Time travel happens when rhythm meets change, when vibrations are altered and re-ordered, when generations are bridged and when memories create new visions. Never Too Late is all about timeless lessons of love and life and locomotion. And it’s even more about Plunk funk & the oneness thereof…