Singer/songwriter and virtuoso (six string fretless) bass player James Kahu has an interesting background. Raised in a Maori family in New Zealand he picked up a bass in high school and then, after three years at a jazz polytechnic, ended up playing with some of America’s finest jazz musicians through his musical career in the Royal New Zealand Navy Band. Now based in Australia, he’s now launching himself as a solo artist, already gaining a development deal with Starlight Records.
This song, Inside Outside, is a strong piece of funk-pop, with some jazzy overtones. Kahu has a voice that is easy on the ear, and the whole song is effortlessly catchy and radio friendly. The chorus in particular latches in the mind on first hearing, which bodes well for the future. If it gets released as a single, which I think it should be, I think the commercial potential is strong for this track.
Kahu lists some of his musical idols as the Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. These influences are present in the track Inside Outside, a faultlessly produced piece of funk-pop. You can certainly detect the Chili Pepper’s influence in the John Frusciante-style funk guitar, and I can tell that Kahu is a big fan of Flea’s slap bass playing. Kahu’s bass playing is excellent throughout, with a melodic baseline. He has some similarly superb musicians working with him and special mention should go to the tight, funky drumming and an excellent drum sound.
Lyrically, it’s typical pop fare about infatuation with a rather desirable lady and the words flow nicely, though the melody and musicianship are undoubtedly the track’s strongest points. There is a great saxophone solo towards the end which I would have liked to have gone on a little longer but it nicely concludes a great pop track.
Kahu’s obvious musical versatility will stand him in good stead, and I think over time he will develop and refine his sound to the point where you will know it is a James Kahu record from the first bars. Uniqueness and instant recognizability are both ideals that every artist should aspire to, and Kahu has the multi-faceted range of gifts and potential to achieve them. I look forward to hearing more music from him in the future.
Verdict: 7.3 out of 10