Music, Reviews March 3, 2020

Single Review: The Burroughs – Love & Unity

by Valerie Vampola

Colorado’s ‘Sweaty Soul’ band The Burroughs step out of their James Brown and retro-funk style to deliver two distinctive tracks. Love & Unity, released on March 3rd, is a digital two-sided single featuring a new evolution of The Burroughs: modernized funk mixed with psychedelic texture. Stream it below.

Side A, “Love & Unity,” leads with frontman Johnny Burroughs preaching about coming together, but when that beat drops, the listener is launched from 1969 to the year 2020 with a more hip-hop feel to their groove. The Burroughs keep some of their iconic elements, like their Stax horn lines (even if the emphasis on them is reduced) and clear influences from big 70’s funk acts like Parliament and Kool & the Gang. But they modernize that sound by adding little rap bits to the chorus and multi-tracked vocal lines more reminiscent of contemporary artists like Bruno Mars. Producer Eric Krasno is due credit for these modernizations, having branded the sounds of Soulive, Lettuce, Tedeschi Trucks Band & Pretty Lights with his previous work. Together with Krasno, The Burroughs show that Mark Ronson isn’t the only one who can outfit the 70’s in a modern suit.

In October 2019, The Burroughs celebrated Woodstock’s 50th anniversary at Washington’s in Downtown Fort Collins with music from artists like Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, and Jefferson Airplane. The Burroughs decided to continue that rock ‘n roll vibe in their B-side “We Got To Stand.” The track maintains a constant psychedelic mood reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and Parliament throughout the song with wurlitzer ornamentations and spacey vocal filters. 

This new direction is slick, upping The Burroughs’ professional level in the game. Their listeners will still know it’s them by Johnny Burrough’s distinctive vocal style and, of course, their infectious live energy. But the cost of that level-up is losing some of the musical style that awarded them their establishment in the Colorado scene: their retro sound and heavy emphasis on the horn section. But that’s okay. Sometimes even established bands have to shake things up instead of shaking their booty. The Burroughs release Love & Unity / We Got To Stand today. Stream it above and catch them live at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom this Friday, March 6.