It has been five years since the last Freemasons compilation, which by the way was backed by a UK Top 20 smash they did with Sophie Ellis-Bextor, ‘Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer)‘, and floor-filler remixes of Beyoncé, Solange and Kylie‘s singles. How do you top that?
If you’re scanning the Shakedown 3 track list for more pop divas – you might be disappointed. The grandmasters of house are doing something richer and more connected with the house music scene with this collection.
Shakedown 3 is a three-disc opus, featuring two full-length DJ mixes and an album of brand new tunes.
The Freemasons are known for delivering dramatic house records with big vocals on blast. It’s what they’re known for and after 10 years of working together, James and Russell are not about to flip the table on their signature sound.
We’ve got in-demand dance music vocalists like Katherine Ellis and Amanda Wilson, as well as a few must-hear artists who might not be regulars on the club charts (i.e. – Emma Rohan and Joel Edwards).
‘In The Blue’ and ‘Sea of Fire’ featuring Emma Rohan sound like new Freemasons classics. Rohan – a Brighton-based songwriter who has penned tracks for Boyzone and Matt Cardle – is a revelation. Her smoky soulful tones, when flanked by opulent strings and stomping club beats, is simply luxurious.
Other standouts include emerging indie band Rubylux‘s single ‘World Goes Quiet’, which is reimagined as a big, urgent emotional dance track. The result is a nice balance that falls somewhere between Lawson and The Wanted’s style. Perhaps without the desperation of the latter.
Shakedown 3′s two epic DJ mixes – Poolside Mix and Night Mix – are Friday essentials. One would do right by you for Friday after work mingles with prosecco and the other will carry you into the small hours.
The new version of Freemasons’ 2010 single ‘Believer‘ (featuring Wynter Gordon) shines on the Night Mix with its emphasised piano and drums. The track leads you into the duo’s massive remixes of Hurts‘ ‘Wonderful Life’ and Whitney Houston’s ‘Million Dollar Bill‘. Here’s where it dawns on us how long it has been since the Freemasons’ last blockbuster pop remix. Hmm.
While the album of new material shows us that the Freemasons’ approach to dance music will never be anything less than magical – there is a question of how long can they keep mixing and pouring the same formula. At what point do the tracks blur and start to sound more or less the same?
Shakedown 3 throws us hints of diversity, particularly when you look into tracks James and Russell have cut under the alias Pegasus.
There are dabbles of funk-house and different flavours of house music, but on the whole, it just doesn’t sound as fresh as the first time you heard a Freemasons mix on the floor. The magic – and there’s tons of it on Shakedown 3 – is still there but it just doesn’t sparkle like it used to.
Standout tracks: ‘Sea of Fire’ (featuring Emma Rohan), ‘Believer’ (featuring Wynter Gordon), ‘World Goes Quiet’ (with Rubylux), ‘Nothing to Lose’ (featuring Andrea Martin).