Cole and the Thornes’ “funky grooves, sultry vocals, and empowering lyrics,” as they say on their website, pretty much define this hot Bozeman band. Monster chops from all are glued together by Thorne’s streetwise, smoky voice and infectious melodies.
Their debut album features ukulele and rhythm guitar player Nicole “Cole” Thorne’s 10 reggae-styled originals. Thorne is joined by bandmates Jordan Rodenbiker, bass; Andy Gavin, drums; Aaron Banfield, guitar; Daniel Wood, trumpet; Jelani Mahiri, percussion; and Matt Sloan, saxophone. Sax player Matt Powell-Palm sat in for the album, too.
“Speak” storms in with a syncopated, high “hoo-hoo” vocal riff from Thorne, melded in unison with sax; it soon morphs into a throbbing and soulful R&B groove, the potent brew of bass and drums percolating all the while.
Thorne’s voice is so strong, you forget there is no other vocal accompaniment. The horn section fills in the blanks most everywhere, and dynamic guitar and uke riffs provide interludes as well. Thorne seems to cross Amy Winehouse with Bob Marley while singing, pairing his island inflection with some of Winehouse’s vocal mannerisms. It’s quite effective.
“El Viento” is an up-tempo Latin rocker; Thorne asks, “What is in store for those who have no idea on how to see?” She adds a subtle scratchy shading to her voice at will, and a slight trilly vibrato at the end of her phrases. I like it!
“Luna” has a sleepy-eyed ukulele instrumental intro and a bluesy beat. “I’ve been searching for my moon … she don’t shine no more,” Thorne wails, stretching out her syllables.
These folks have an addictive sound. They’re full of talent and will surely get you on your feet!
– Mariss McTucker