Snarky Puppy
Family Dinner, Vol. 2



by SirArthur6 USER (14 Reviews)
June 3rd, 2016 | 4 replies

Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The essence of jazz fusion.

Michael League – bassist, arranger and composer for Snarky Puppy, said this about Family Dinner Volume Two, ‘the idea was to create unlikely but natural pairings between the vocalists and instrumentalists.’ It’s this very aspect of the album that gives it such a strong identity. There are hints of folk, country, funk, African, dance, electro-pop, soul and progressive rock scattered throughout this album courtesy of its many guest musicians and diverse singers, but it is Snarky Puppy’s brand of jazz that gives this album its sonic consistency, and helps keep it from being just a collection of songs.

Instrumental solos make up one of the strongest stylistic elements of this album, and are present on all but one track here. Sometimes they’re long and progressively structured, like the piano interlude in ‘Don’t You Know’, which serves as a two and half minute oasis away from the upbeat, vocally-layered funk that drives the rest of the song on either side. At other times fun and skill are the game, such as Jeff Coffin’s excitable saxophone performance in ‘I Remember’.

It would be easy to dismiss Family Dinner Vol. 2 as lazy as Snarky Puppy are rearranging songs originally written by the guest artists that appear on this album, but it makes for an interesting exercise to compare Snarky Puppy’s version of the songs against the versions envisioned originally by the writing artist. By doing this, Snarky Puppy’s flair for interesting, polyrhythmic textures becomes very apparent. The extra coda written for opening track ‘I Asked’, takes the thematically hummed heartbeat sound used in the song and layers it with free-form drumming and atmospheric synths, transferring a song based in indie-folk into the realms of the experimental.

There are some songs that are vastly improved as a result of the jazz collective’s input. Laura Mvula’s offering, ‘Sing to the Moon’, which first appeared on her 2013 album, sounded stilted and unfinished. Snarky Puppy’s delicately layered organs, skilful and soulful keyboard solos, and gorgeous trumpet arrangements, combined with a little rhythmic restructuring allowed the song to be the longing and passionate gem of a ballad it was always meant to be. David Crosby’s contemplative ‘Somebody Home’, is similarly made all the more luxuriant by understated but deftly placed melodic lines coming from all around the jazz orchestra.

I would, however, also assert that the improvements Snarky Puppy have made to these songs is not the cause for the album, but rather a symptom of something else. The vast number of credits listed for this album shows how strongly collaboration is playing a part here. What we hear is the result of many great musical minds pooling their expertise into the performances. You only have to watch the performances for this album that Snarky Puppy filmed in front of a live studio audience to see how the artists smile at each other as they perform, how they groove themselves into the music, and enjoy each other’s influence. It’s not just musical expertise that binds this album together, but it is a love of music that is integral to the DNA of Family Dinner Volume 2.

Recent reviews by this author
Ukandanz AwoBig Big Train Folklore
Anna Meredith VarmintsShiina Ringo Heisei Fuuzoku
Shiina Ringo Hi Izuru TokoroMomoiro Clover Z 5th Dimension
user ratings (23)

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 3rd 2016


Album Rating: 4.5

This is a strong contender for my personal favourite album of the year so I thought I’d give it a review.

Watch the album here:

Support the band and buy the album here:

For an easily digestible track to see if you would like the album try Sing to the Moon:

As always, constructive criticism is welcomed. Please let me know what you guys think.

June 3rd 2016


I already listened to Culcha Vulcha this year and it was fun, I may spin this one too. Also the artwork's colors remind me of Sylva which is a good thing.

"Instrumental solos make up a one of"
Delete that "a"

"excitable saxophone performance"
Wouldn't "exciting" be a better word?

Just a couple of things, pos.

June 3rd 2016


Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Sabrutin. I've deleted the 'a'

I did initially put 'exciting' for describing the saxophone solo but decided on excitable as I felt exciting would describe the listener's reaction to it when really I wanted to describe the way Coffin plays it.

I personally enjoyed this much more than Culcha Vulcha. CV was fun but not as amazing as some of the songs here.

March 11th 2017


snarky puppy is the worst band ever!!!

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2019
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy