Despite the name, a template for the title of every buddy cop movie ever, Badge and Talkalot is just one guy, a certain Mr. Gilberto Caleffi, and he works with a pretty simple (but very effective) toolkit. He’s judiciously understated in what he uses beyond low-key drums and rhythm guitar, fat and fluid bass, and the keys, particularly the thick, chocolate-chunk tones of the Fender Rhodes, to craft straightforward, rock-solid connoisseur funk.
There’s one other element in play, of course, the guest vocalists, and they routinely crush it here. That’s to be expected when you bring in talent like Madlib associate Georgia Anne Muldrow (the steadfast “Showdown”) and soul-punk matriarch Lisa Kekaula, who soars like a fucking falcon over the very superstitious groove of “Can’t Find Your Love”.
In contrast to its bouncy predecessor, 2016’s Spaghetti Blaster, Fragments of the Soul is a weighty, worry-riddled concern, but it’s no bummer. “Giving Up the Ghost”, sung by Kevin Mark Trail and written by no less than Ben Harper, illustrates that point. The song is a heartbreaker that could convincingly conclude a funeral, a doomed love affair, or a miserable marathon of overdue dishwashing, and it’s certainly a perfect punctuation mark for this sober and scrupulous effort.