So DJ Yoda has a reputation, right, for trading on pastiche. Nostalgic mashups of old-school jams, TV themes, cut-and-paste joints summoning familiar tunes, spun with a bopping hip-hop sensibility. Nowt wrong with that.
Can he pull off similar magic on a disc of originals? Turns out yes.
Prom Nite, as the title implies, draws aesthetic inspiration from the 1950s. Americana. Grease the musical. Ed’s Diner. Cadillacs. You get it.
While it starts off really quite mindful and woo-woo with a track named ‘Breathe’, featuring that nice Lily James (Yesterday, Downton) doing lovely breathy things all over a deliriously lovely harp, piano, and uncanny one-note bell riff, it very rapidly gets down to to party.
‘Coconut Grove’, song two, has Homeboy Sandman lay down surely the most joyous hip-hop flow of the decade, over a stonking beat marinaded in barbecue-sweet baritone doo-wop harmonies, seasoned with jewel-bright strings. It’s officially a banger. Put it on!
Then we dip into the moody with ‘Don’t Even Try it’ – Liam Bailey, man, what a voice – and sojourn over into experimental jams with evergreen piano ledge Jamie Cullum. But it never once leaves the dancefloor.
Boy, get a load of ‘My Energy’ feat. sultry firebrand Eva Lazarus. Rooted in the boomy, bassy, ‘Blue Moon’ vinyl vibe basically nobody makes anymore – why, for God’s sake? – it captures impeccably that beauty-school-dropout Grease energy, but with block-party turntable scratches instead of hi-hats. Genius, really.
‘Feels Like Home’ is a megawatt blast of gospel positivity. ‘Airplane Mode’ is silky and serene, setting the scene for the beguiling ‘Harder I Rock’, a wicked fusion of slick turntablism, stratocaster-y guitars, and the mindblowing harp chops of Amanda Whiting. She’s a gem, by the way, Whiting, all over this record – one moment plucking ethereal romantic arpeggios, the next cranking out naughty blues licks. What a star.
Penultimate tune ‘Way Home’ is a hip-swivelly Jackson 5-style bop all about food – ‘searching out the yummiest treats… waistline expanding with these delicious dishes’. After which DJ Yoda brings it home on Beadyman collab ‘Don’t Mean A Thing’, a stomping little paean to the quiet glories of midlife. On ‘Prom Nite’ we’re dating an artist confident in his own skin, delivering where it counts, well worthy of making it to home plate.
Words: Andy Hill