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'The Olympians'

As genres go, soul stands as one of the hardest to resist. After all, there’s groove, there’s melody, and there’s passion. What’s not to like? Someone with a keen understanding of this is Toby Pazner, multi-instrumentalist and mastermind behind The Olympians. After years spent perfecting his chops stateside Pazner found himself performing at the famed Acropolis in Athens, a fact he celebrated afterward by taking a dip in the Aegean sea. That night, and for many nights to follow, he was visited by a toga wearing figure in his dreams, a figure who told him to cross the ocean back home and create a ‘Temple of Sound’.

Now if this is just fantastic copy for a press release or just a less boring way to go about revealing where your band name came from (either’s fair game), the man did get himself back to the US and forged himself a dandy studio, soon filling it with some of Brooklyn’s finest. Featuring a host of Daptone Records talent (Lee Fields & The Expressions, Menahan Street Band) the album’s eleven numbers are a confident walk through the finest examples of soul instrumentals and stands a great homage to the best releases of Cadet, Stax or Hi.

Nearly every avenue of retro-soul is explored, the cinematic strings of opener ‘Sirens Of Jupiter’ begging for inclusion on the next Tarantino flick while ‘Diana by My Side’ is an absolute 101 in baby-making music circa 1973. Being an album performed and recorded by seasoned pros there’s truly not a misstep to be found, the horns blaze, the organs add well balanced texture while the whole package is delivered in warm and organic manner. The any real question is: do you like soul? Because, by the beard of Zeus, if you do this is an impossible to resist treat.

7/10

Words: Sam Walker-Smart

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