Somehow, the westcoast & soul winds blow almost everywhere. Proof to this can be found even in Finland. Not even the TOMI MALM works need to be discovered, but also this one! MIKKO PETTINEN & HAPPY people is a fairly new shining star (well, sorry for not discovering this 2016 album until now…) that will be most interesting to follow in the future.
This album was actually a live recording in two sets in a large studio room at the Finnish State Television YLE. Mikko’s band is an impressive 11-piece, himself included. Mikko is something of a multi-instrumentalist, and on this recording he handles the lead vocals, piano/keyboards, trumpet and flugelhorn! Added to this is a horn section quartet, a troyka of background vocalists and the basic setup: a drummer, a bass player and a guitar player.
The main part of the album brings us distinct soul & funk, sometimes added by westcoast or gospel vibes. Among the songs I like best there is the title track “Nothing can stop my spirit”. One reason is its fantastic funky energy! Among the more westcoast oriented songs are “Perfectly imperfect” which is a dream for any fan of OLE BÖRUD or ANDREAS ALEMAN. Simply great stuff!
Things are a bit slowed down in “I wanna grow old with you” and “Waiting”, which can be described as a mid-tempo gospel soul thing. Really good, and the latter is a duet with Mikko and HANNA-MARIA HELENIUS.
Anything on the downside then? Well, it is after all a live recording. There are some flaws, it would almost be strange if there weren’t. Some solos feel a bit sloppy, like the guitar parts in “Happy people theme” and some horn solos. And yes, if this would have been a full studio recording, some parts would probably have been shorter (especially solo parts).
On the other hand, if you buy the CD edition, you get eight of the ten songs on a bonus DVD!
Then the solos won’t feel as lengthy, since you will feel a bit like you are actually there in an audience. For me, I am deeply happy that this album is also released on vinyl!
If you are a fan of TOWER OF POWER, JAMES BROWN, ANDREAS ALEMAN or OLE BÖRUD, this one is a sure buy.