lance ferguson

Album Review: They Shall Inherit - Menagerie

They Shall Inherit - Menagerie

Tru Thoughts' latest album release comes from the prolific Australian producer and songwriter Lance Ferguson. He's best known for his work as Lanu and within the Bamboos but here he turns his hand to spiritual jazz. 

And it's the best thing he's ever done.

I used to be pretty into the nu-soul movement ten years ago whilst I was still at university - The Roots and the artists in ?uestlove's Okayplayer collective... Jill Scott and Erykah Badu all spent a lot of time in my minidisc player and D'Angelo's Voodoo remains the pinnacle of that sound in my eyes.

Ferguson takes us right back there, but not in a retrograde fashion. This sounds timeless and more real than much caught with the nu-soul label, D'Angelo aside - this sounds more modern and achingly old at once. As the appropriately monikored Menagerie, Ferguson plots an exploration of music and mood on They Shall Inherit. Just the opening title track feels big enough to be an album in itself, with it's looping, gradually evolving structure and dramatic spoken-word bridge. It's essentially jazz, with the Coltrane-inspired sax work to prove it, but this is warm and soulful enough to feel approachable despite its 12-minute duration.

The generosity demonstrated in the track-lengths on They Shall Inherit is thankfully balanced with remarkable restraint in their number - the album clocks in at 45-minutes over six tracks. Following that epic opening is the funkadelic bass of 'The Chosen', with vocals that form the music instead of dominate or direct it. This was a key aim of the project - to encompass the various parts (the Menagerie) equally as opposed to under the constraint of a more traditional band structure, with the exception of Fallon Williams' forthright and righteous vocals on 'The Quietening' the approach holds true

It's all glorious. 'Jamahlia' rides on speedy but gently brushed drums and loose, playful if again fast Thelonious Monk-esque piano playing. Roy Ayers himself provides a star-turn delivering his trademark vibes on 'Leroy And The Lion', which even plays with some jazz-guitar to great effect.

The only possible problem with this album is that all of Fergusson's other work pales in comparison. This is the real, starry-eyed deal - turn up the music and turn down the lights.

They Shall Inherit is released on 10 December through Tru Thoughts, available to pre-order on CD and CD & Vinyl box set on [affiliate links]. Preview 'Leroy And The Lion' below: