Available Now: The Deplar Effect by The New Mastersounds

Article Contributed by Color Red | Published on Saturday, September 24, 2022

For over two decades, The New Mastersounds have maintained more than just a reputation of longevity. Instead, they’ve cultivated a rare balance of consistency, yet commitment to constantly evolving their sound. Forged out of the golden age of the modern funk and soul revival in 1999, the band has amassed a catalog of sixteen albums, embarked on countless world tours, and drawn in a broad audience through both their original material and collaborations with esteemed vocalists and remixers. Slated for release on September 16, 2022, the group’s seventeenth album The Deplar Effect captures the band on a high after a two-year hiatus of in-person engagements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The band retreated to the brand new Floki Studios located down the valley of Eleven Experiences’ Deplar Farm in Troll Peninsula, Iceland to hunker down and immerse themselves in truly being in the zone.

Being surrounded by beautiful weather, snowcapped mountains, water, and the coziness of the brand new northern Icelandic studio had an “effect” on the band, as cited by guitarist and bandleader Eddie Roberts and further reflected within the wordplay of the album’s title. Fueled by their camaraderie and the energy in the room after their extended absence, there were several goosebump-inducing moments during the session. The album’s debut single “Gonna Get in My Way” was penned for the band by songwriter and vocalist Shelby Kemp of the Mississippi-based roots-rock group Royal Horses written from the perspective of a working musician. He elaborates that it’s an “inside looking out description of the struggles of finding and being one’s true self.” The track was then handed to vocalist Lamar Williams Jr. (son of the late Allman Brothers bassist, Lamar Williams) who joined the band in 2019 for their Billboard-charting album Shake It. While reflecting on the session, Williams notes, “We hit a groove where everyone got goosebumps and could feel it in their bones. The song goes into a spiritual realm with a line saying ‘I’ll try to fly if you do the same’ and it was reflective of what we were doing in the mountains with birds flying around and openness. It encapsulated the vibe of what was going on.”

Inspired by the harsh Icelandic climate, “Let Me In From The Cold” is a humorous song about a frosty relationship between a 'hard to get' woman and a man pleading for her affection also playing up to the Icelandic themes. Between Williams’ vocals and the band’s tight instrumental work and crisp turnarounds, the track is a highly danceable, uptempo nod to 60s soul reminiscent of Ray Charles and Mose Allison. “High on The Mountain” is inspired by classic Motown soul with some Curtis Mayfield-style bongos livening up the chorus. Roberts cites, “I wanted a contrast between the verses and choruses, reflecting the contract of the mountainous backdrop surrounding the studio." Keyboardist Joe Tatton adds, “The song has a hopeful, feel-good message about how things will come together. It was one of the first tracks written at Floki Studios.”

Longtime fans of The New Mastersounds’ instrumental quartet works will not be disappointed as the band honors their boogaloo and soul-jazz roots in “Watchu Want.” On every studio album to date, the band carries on a tradition of paying homage to The Meters with the first track of every album being bright and upbeat in the same spirit of the legendary New Orleans quartet. “Hot Tub” is a relaxed, mid-tempo groove allowing the pace to simmer and slow down, and relax.

From first to last note, the band revels in the experience of coming back together with the blank canvas of a new studio and living in the moment encompassed by the northern lights and eradicated from distractions. The Deplar Effect finds the band continuing to climb up the mountain top of never resting on laurels and their revolving doors of collaboration. It’s the culmination of their free-flowing musical vernacular, and adventurous spirit while at the same time, never completely reinventing the wheel. “At the point of release, you have to trust the process that the universe will accept it as you have delivered it—not try to be anything else but you,” says Williams. “We’re trying to come off with love and that’s the goal of each song.”