Finnish nine-piece band The Napkins have recently released their second album, World on a String, bringing modern 1960’s swing and retro soul to all brothers and sisters. The band consists of a brass quartet, powerful, distinct vocals, and a rhythm section that delivers a pleasantly tight high-class performance throughout the album.
Hit play and you’ll instantly find yourself in a dark, atmospheric, soulful venue as the live recording gives every song an authentic and vibrant feel.
The influence of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are clear, but lead singer Charlotte Kerbs’ vocals and style add some swing, folk, and even a bit of guts to the retro-soul core, as do the horns. This is perhaps most easily heard on the tracks “Stay” and “Summer Rain”.
“The Feeling” makes you want to grab a dance partner for a laid-back swing, or perhaps even a nice, slow, groovy twist.
The Napkins let us know we’ve all got the “World on a String” through their tight beat and almost hypnotic bass line. Charlotte preaches like a gospel minister urging everybody to take the lead in their own life. A great message, yet unfortunately delivered slightly too insistently to hold my attention.
In “Conversation”, Charlotte tells her man a thing or two about love and how she’s tired of him playing games. The tune has a psychedelic ring to it with an intense trumpet on top of the rhythmic drums, a sound which automatically connects you to the ’60s. No doubt she won’t settle for anything less than the real thing!
Melancholy horns with a crying guitar solo and a touch of Mexican style makes the blue ballade “All Over” perfectly suited for a great modern Western movie. Listening to this song, I can’t help but imagine an epic, heartbreaking ending as the lonesome hero rides into the desert sunset.
Dancing to “Sugar Waltz” is quite a challenge. Although it’s not as sweet as the title promises, the track is more the result of an overdose of sugar, exploding into to an uptempo jam inferno.
The last dance will no doubt be a cheek-to-cheek to the slow, touchy ballade “Runaway Train”. The brass instruments bring a grandiose sound, and with the fragile and lighter tone paired with the strong and secure vocals, this is a powerful way to round up the album.
The Napkins deliver well-played modern swing and retro soul tunes sprinkled with a few folk notes and a lively lead vocalist that gives them their own unique sound – one that might divide the waters, being appealing to some yet draining to others.
Listen on Spotify