“Let Love Shine In..” sung by a gospel choir serves as the captivating opening line of the album, setting the tone for this remarkable seventh release from one of the UK‘s most cherished and industrious bands. Although named after the producer and singer, the band comprises a formidable group of musicians who can effortlessly captivate audiences across diverse venues, from huge stages in the blazing sun at Glastonbury to a working men’s club in Leeds on a rainy Tuesday.

Building on their success of securing a UK Dance Chart Number One and BBC 6 Music’s Album of The Day with their previous album, “Stratos Bleu,” the band embark on a continued journey to create music that compels people to dance and escape their troubles. Yet, they do so without succumbing to trite or hollow lyrics. Their genuine passion and understanding of their craft shine through in every song. Contrasting the carefree musical attitude of their unashamedly funk driven sound is the band’s socially conscious lyricism, which keeps them grounded in their working-class roots in the North East of England. They refuse to overlook the struggles and dark times that are just as acutely felt as the joyous moments.

The album derives its name from Ellen Wilkinson, an early female Labour politician who played a prominent role in the Jarrow March, which greatly influenced post-war perspectives on social justice.

“After enduring years of deceit from those in power, we believed it was time for love to reclaim its place in our lives. This album embodies hope and serves as a reflection that, regardless of the turmoil surrounding us, if we remain resilient and support one another, we will all triumph. Our hero, central to our epic tale, is Ellen Wilkinson (Red Ellen), a woman who embodied everything that those currently in power seek to dismantle. Let us emulate Ellen’s spirit and stand up for goodness, fight for all that has benefited us collectively, and give back what we don’t need, for only love can conquer hate.”

Lead singer John Turrell eloquently expresses the band’s vision:

On the opening track, “The Light,” the band enlists the talent of their idol, Ronnie Foster, a legendary figure from Blue Note Records, to infuse the keys with extraordinary power. A remarkable collaboration, given that their own Mike Porter is a wildly talented keys player in his own right. The band crossed paths with Ronnie (renowned for his work with artists like Stevie Wonder and The Jacksons) while sharing a festival stage in France. Ronnie generously agreed to collaborate with the band on this song.

“There is so much wrong with the way those in power have let us down, from the lockdown parties at No.10 to the proliferation of post-truth politics and culture wars invading our streets, driven by a greed-fueled media. The most effective response is to transcend it all and allow love (and The Light) to shine in.”

John elaborates on the song’s message:

The first single taken from the album, “IGOTCHA,” is a straight-up boogie number, but beneath the infectious funk there lies a message of unity and hope that lingers long after the disco lights have dimmed. The forthcoming single, “Echoes,” explores the aftermath of a relationship’s end. It encapsulates the flashbacks, the whispers, and the internal voices affirming that it’s truly over. The track revolves around the irresistible bass line from Neil Harland, complemented by synths reminiscent of early cameo performances. Two of the most poignant moments on the album are dedicated to departed family members.

“Mary’s Song” and “Empty Bottle Serenade” are songs that undoubtedly resonate with anyone experiencing loss and grief.

“John composed a beautiful tribute to my father after I shared some personal stories about him. Initially, we envisioned the song as a simple arrangement with strings and John’s vocals. However, it evolved as our immensely talented guitarist, Lloyd Wright, contributed stunning jazz guitar licks. To add a unique touch, I even utilized empty bottles from the bin as percussion on the track.”

Smoove shares:

“Mary’s Song” is a poignant composition about loss, serving as a heartfelt homage to his beloved mother in law by John Turrell, a man unafraid to express his deepest emotions through his lyrics. The album moves towards its close with the irresistibly catchy “Geno’s Discotheque,” a tribute to a mythical club that never existed, before culminating with a song honouring the hero of the narrative, “Red Ellen.”