Drawing together elements of funk, indie-rock and a tinge of pop sentimentalities, Speak Easy Circus is a Scottish band unlike any other. Celebrating the strange with powerful instrumentation and a tongue-in-cheek attitude, Jack Avison (guitar, vocals and keys), Jon Wallace (saxophone and keys), Chatonda Ridley (bass) and Frazer Laurie (drums) have been entertaining the masses since 2019. Featured on Less Than 1000 Followers, Music For The Misfits, Sinusoidal Music, Turtle Tempo and various playlists, the lads are turning curators’ heads on a global scale. As well as making critics smile, the group is placing a grin on all of their listeners. The latest addition to their discography is the single ‘Sewn Up’.
Following the track ‘Company of Men’ (read our review here), Speak Easy Circus adopt a smoother and more soothing tone in ‘Sewn Up’. Unlike ‘Company of Men’ which saw a brief incorporation of alternative rock within the tune, ‘Sewn Up’ is a steady stream of funk-rock. This does not reduce the band’s innovativeness or eclecticism at all; instead, it shows they know themselves while still being open to diverse genres. In fact, the melodic arrangement of ‘Sewn Up’ is filled with well-placed rises and dips giving prominence to different elements while having everything come together in a flowing whole.
Speak Easy Circus has been compared to the likes of Frank Zappa, The Libertines and Earth, Wind and Fire, and I have to agree. The layering of drums, guitars, keys and saxophone are spot-on with Avison’s vocals adding a slathering of funkiness making ‘Sewn Up’ a pleasure to listen to. Packed with groovy vibes, it’s easy to see why Speak Easy Circus has been compared to those iconic bands. What I find truly appealing is how this Scottish foursome uses the old-school funk/indie-rock style but add an edge for contemporary audiences. It’s like the lads are ambassadors of original funk in the modern-day music scene.
While the melody is enchanting with Wallace’s saxophone adding some sexiness to the mix, it is Avison’s vocals that make ‘Sewn Up’ something special – at least for me, that is. His bold, rich tones are a shimmering light in a kaleidoscopic sonic tapestry making you sit back and say, “yeah, that rocks”. Speak Easy Circus explain that ‘Sewn Up’ is a tale of a favourite pair of jeans being ripped and heartbroken until they learned to sew, so they “decided to write a song in honour of my favourite pair of jeans”. Personally, I think this might be an underlying Freudian attempt at bringing awesome old-school music to a younger generation – like old jeans being restored in a new world. Then again, I overthink things too much.
Overall, I love Speak Easy Circus and ‘Sewn Up’. It takes me back to the days when I listened to Earth, Wind and Fire, and Chicago records on repeat. This band is definitely a diamond in the rough and one to watch closely.