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Soul Express Album of the Month in December 2008 - January 2009

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The Arrival
US Hidden Beach, 2008

1) Can't Help It 2) Pressure 3) Just the Way You Are 4) House of Love 5) Alright 6) Rightfully So 7) Set Free 8) The Struggle 9) Love We Share 10) No Limit 11) Poetry Interlude feat. Malik Yusef 12) Hey 13) So Much Better 14) Always Be Arriving (Finale) feat. Malik Yusef

Now this was a pleasant surprise. I didn't have high hopes for the third album of this husband and wife duo, since their second CD In This Life Together was much more R&B oriented than their wonderful debut set Surrender to Love. Honestly I expected the twosome to continue in the R&B inclined mould and trying to please the youngsters who buy R&B chart records these days. Instead, I can now state that the CD contains several very rootsy soul songs extremely grittily sung by Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon, and I even found myself enjoying the more hip hop -inclined cuts featured on the CD.

The album opens with the excellent mid-tempo ballad I Can't Help It, which reminds me of Womack & Womack's best compositions, and is powerfully delivered by Fatin and Aja. The background is rather basic but uses Rhodes, organ, bass and guitar over the beats. The string-laden, atmospheric mid-pacer This House of Love was the classy first single release, and Hey continues in the same mould.

Rightfully So boasts a real horn section with trombone, trumpet and saxophone, but real drums would have been welcome. Anyway, Fatin's gravelly vocals easily create a very rootsy feel to this track as well.

The only track I didn't like on the album is the Anthony Bell-produced simple R&B jogger Set Free. Much better are The Struggle and The Pressure which describe in their lyrics about the pressures the couple feels when growing their family; the album is inspired by their latest addition to the family, twin girls.

The closing track cleverly uses the Leon Ware-Marcos Valle classic Rockin You Eternally as its basis, adds some fiery drumming by Ahmir Thompson and smooth rap poetry by Malik Yusef. (Rating: 8/10)

- Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express

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