New Monsoon: The Sound

Sometimes New Monsoon’s tunes are reminiscent of those done by the early jazz-rock group Dreams, whose ranks included the Brecker brothers. The instrumental segments were fantastic, but once the vocals started, things quickly turned generic and disposable.

Guitarist Jeff Miller and keyboardist Phil Ferlino are accomplished instrumentalists, and when they’re doing transitions, fills or solos they make entertaining, commendable statements. But from the opening moments of “Journey Man” on through other songs like “Trust in Me” there’s a noticeable lack of distinction and energy in the vocals and lyrics. That’s the group’s only glaring weakness, because everyone plays well, the unison sections and arrangements are generally sharp and there are even some nice voicings with banjo and tabla employed in surprising settings. Improvement in the singing and lyrical areas can turn what’s now a good instrumental unit into a top all-around band.