a love-groove that proves to be more than just backpacker fodder...
Mark Perlaki

11:46 14th March 2008

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Having raised the profile of the yellow earth mover with the endearing number 1 single 'JCB Song', Luke Concannon (vocals, guitar, and bodhran) and John Parker (double-bass and human beatbox) aka Nizlopi, artfully craft a second full length album 'Make It Happen' with a rootsyer sound and full credit to legendary producer Phil Brown, previously a producer for Bob Marley and for Island Records. Favouring analogue recording by means of a two-inch tape over the digital antecedent to create a more 'raw' sound that encapsulates the energy and spontaneity of their live performances, 'Make It Happen' has the conviction of being from the street and has the cross-genre appeal that artists such as Marley carried off.

With calypso and reggae inspired acoustic rhythms, and African instrumentation is shyly employed on the postcard song 'Last Night In Dakar' in the form of the kora, 'Make It Happen' doesn't detract from the acoustic template that is unmistakably Nizlopi, but appears more grounded in relation to the acoustic lightness of their debut album 'Half These Songs Are About You'.

As you'd expect of a band who have taken their name from Luke's schoolboy crush on a Hungarian girl, the vagaries and the redeeming power of love are explored and espoused on 'Flooded Quarry', the syrupy 'Love Is' - "...love is the sweetest feeling that we know...", and 'Without You', perhaps milking the metaphors a tad too far with lines such as "...without you/ all my teeth fall out/ I'm decapitated...". Kindred spirits intertwine on the romantic longing of 'The One' where Luke says how love made him feel as powerful as Muhammad Ali boxing in Zion, while 'Drop Your Guard' has the sensitive male vulnerability in earnest.

'Make It Happen' appears shaped by a conviction captured in the energy of the gospel harmonies of the live favourite 'Start Beginning', and seeping out in message songs such as the people power of 'Feel Inside', the Marley-esque ruminations of 'I'm Alive Again'. The celestial guidance of 'Find Me' appeals to the angelic realm - "...come on and remind me/ come and align me/ come on and find me...", 'If You Care About It' finds a love-groove, and the anti-corporation rap of 'England Up Rise' with an intro from Benjamin Zephaniah packs a Ghandi-esque make-your-own-clothes-positive-energy punch. Elsewhere, the verite tale of 'Part Of Me' has the embracing qualities not heard since Billy Bragg's 'Sexuality' and Tom Robinson's 'Glad To Be Gay', where Luke's slightly mental girlfriend doesn't like his feminine side, to which Luke counters "...part of me is gay...part of you is gay...part of God is gay...", a cosy-all-in-the-bed concept some social groupings may find difficult to accept.

There's a toasty warmth to Nizlopi's sound down to John Parker's standing bass - as connected as the great Danny Thompson, and there's a depth and development to Nizlopi's songs coupled with a sense of purpose and conviction. While Jack Johnson lounges in a hammock and Newton Faulkner avoids the shampoo, 'Make It Happen' has a multi-cultural appeal and treads the board like a young Michael Franti stance of political engagement with a love-groove that proves to be more than just backpacker fodder.

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