SummerStage No.3: The Judy Chops
Mostly recorded in the backwoods of central Virginia, The Judy Chops’ fourth studio LP Love Is the Answer carries a lot of Southern traditions (a lot ); from soul to funk to rockabilly, the band jumps from genre to genre on almost every song. Even opener “Q 4 U,” sounds like a wacky vaudevillian romp and, over 11 tracks, The Judy Chops’ variety show marches onward.
The septet—consisting of William Howard (electric guitar, vocals), Molly Murphy (hollowbody guitar, vocals), Sally Murphy (banjo, vocals), Mike Pressel (trumpet), Rachel Smith (baritone saxophone), Jims Hinkle (bass) and Jess Bergh (drums)—clearly enjoys navigating through all of these sonic changes.
However, they’re at their most dynamic on the feel-good, soul-funk single “Lay My Love.” In fact, the song appears twice on Love Is the Answer . The first version is a mid-album horn-heavy groove, filled with the stylings of Stax Records.
The second is an a cappella composition, with only the group’s voices to keep the tune afloat. It may seem like the stripped-down version was a last-minute throw-in, but these four minutes and 20 seconds of lush harmonies put the band’s sonic unity on full display. Sure, a cover of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ 1956 favorite “I Put a Spell on You” adds yet another dimension to the release, and “Spit It Out,” sounds like a lost Blues Brothers tune, but of all of the masks that The Judy Chops try on throughout Love Is the Answer, the two sides of “Lay My Love,” present this band at their most real. If it were a different time, then “Lay My Love” A and B could be pressed on two sides of a 45, with pleading vocals reverberating on high-fidelity vinyl.