Album Review – Diplomats of Solid Sound: What Goes Around Comes Around

The Iowa City purveyors of retro rhythm and blues are back with a new slab of wax–their fifth since 2001 and their second since they added those sassy sirens of soul, The Diplomettes (lead vocalists Sarah Cram and Katharine Ruestow).

The addition of the Diplomettes in 2006 transformed the band from funky professors of instrumental jazz and soul to a hands-in-the-air soul revival, recalling the great early ‘60s singles of Stax and Motown. By the time they released the first album with the Diplomettes, they had already started to introduce newer songs into their live set. Keeping the retro flavor alive, the new songs simply rolled the dials of the style time machine forward five to ten years, to a late ‘60s or early ‘70s sound. Some of these songs are on What Goes Around Comes Around.

For the most part, the first several songs on the album follow the early soul sound established by the last, self-titled, album: Nate “Count” Basinger’s Hammond B3 bounces around the powerful horn section of David Basinger and Eddie McKinley with Doug Roberson’s clean rhythm guitar and leads kept in time by Paul Kresowik’s drums–an established formula for soul music. But, Sarah’s “Gimme One More Chance,” with its unexpected string lead, is a standout track that gives us a taste of a new direction. It’s not exactly Stax, not exactly Disco–is it “chamber funk?”

With “No Man,” Katharine Ruestow jabs a painted fingernail in our chest–“Ain’t nobody’s sucka, nobody’s going to stand in my way!” The “woo-hoo” harmonies and Katharine’s jaunty lead vocal will have you on Gladys Night’s Midnight Train to Georgia.

The 70’s influence continues with super-funky wah-wah guitar and analog synth propelling a socially conscious “What’s Going On” mood into the title track.

Lineup changes in the band plus a couple of members moving away from Iowa City may have cast a shadow of doubt on The Diplomats, but this album not only shows they are still here, but they are evolving!

What Goes Around Comes Around will be available October 11th in CD, LP and digital formats via the Record Kicks website and in CD/download formats via Pravda Records, most online retailers and especially groovy record stores.