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Soul Express Album of the Month

March 1998

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Nothin' But Love
(UK Expansion CD, 1998)
1) I Need Your Love 2) This Dedication 3) Indigenous Love 4) Tell Me You Want My Love 5) I Get off on You 6) I Can Give You Plenty Love 7) It's Alright 8) Nothin' But Love 9) It's You 10) Give Me a Chance 11) Indigenous Love (Reprise)

This CD has been a long time coming, but it certainly was worth the wait! UK's premier soul label Expansion first released new material from Keni Burke back in 1992 on the first (and absolutely brilliant) Soul Sauce compilation; the song titled Friends & Lovers continued Burke's sophisticated yet highly inspiring ballad style. However, it's not featured here, but all three Keni Burke tunes from the Pure Soul compilations are. Of these songs, I rank the gentle, airy ballad This Dedication as the most impressive, and I Get off on You is another fine composition in a more synthetic setting.
The best thing is that the album includes several equally shining tracks as the aforementioned songs, and a few even better! Keni really hasn't lost any of his magical touch: he still writes extremely touching ballad songs, and I have to admire how it comes natural to him to create tracks of this calibre one after another. This Dedication, Tell Me You Want My Love and I Can Give You Plenty Love are all first-rate soul ballads in the classic Keni Burke vein.
As a composition, I rate Tell Me You Want My Love among Keni's best ever ballad songs, and the elegant arrangement laced by beautiful guitar work adds to the heavenly atmosphere of the song. And while Keni is not vocally equally breathtaking as Ronald Isley, Gerald Alston or some other legends of this genre, he certainly knows how to interpret these beautiful songs in a genuinely soulful way.
Furthermore, although the album lacks the delicious, mellow funk-flavoured sound of the Rising to the Top variety, there is one truly magical mid-tempo song that should end up another future soul anthem. This marvellous tune is Indigenous Love, which is built on a hypnotic, refined groove and Keni surely succeeds in creating that `smooth and natural' feel, as described in the lyrics.
Of the other mid-pacers, Nothin' But Love is a creamy, ballad-like mid-tempo floater with some tasteful piano soloing, Give Me a Chance is a little heavier yet wonderfully swaying plodder, while the opening cut I Need Your Love even has a slight street flavour, but is saved by a solid, soulful melody line.
An album I can whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who's into the smooth and sophisticated side of soul music.

Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express

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