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The Soul Express Album of the Month

May 2002

KLOUD 9
ON KLOUD 9
UK Expansion CD, 2002
1) Can't Stop Thinking About You 2) If You Ever 3) Never Knew 4) That's How Love Should Be 5) Let's Not Lose (featuring Karen Bernod) 6) Priority 7) Soul Mate 8) On Kloud 9 (Interlude) 9) Promise (featuring Incognito) 10) With Me 11) Make You Mine (featuring Kirk Whalum) 12) Mercy of Your Love 13) A Moment 14) Lullaby for K.C. 15) On Kloud 9 16) Keep Me Coming Around
Produced by Jean-Paul Bluey” Maunick, Mitchell Jones, Kendall Duffie, Joe Hogue, Ken Barken, Roger Ryan, Ray Hayden and Micah Whitley

What a wonderful year 2002 is turning out to be for us sophisti-soul lovers. The debut album by this Nashville, TN-based vocal duo comprising of twins Kendall and Kelvis Duffie (see interview in our latest issue) is the most well-rounded album so far this year, perhaps only rivalled by Will Downing's stunning new set.
The Kloud 9 twins debuted in 1999 with the mid-tempo stepper Make You Mine which has been re-done here with an additional spice of Kirk Whalum's sax thrown in. The opening track, written by gospel mainstays Mitchell Jones and Parkes Stewart and also featured on the current inspirational soul compilation With This Ring… Forever I Do, is perhaps one of the lesser cuts on offer here, but the following number If You Ever is a breezy jazz-tinged floater which is simply perfect for summertime radio airplay. The Ray Hayden-produced mid-tempo Never Knew revives the backing of Martine Girault's Been Thinking About You and evolves into a worthwhile club track.
However, a sign of what the duo is really capable of is the warm mid-tempo ballad With Me. It's an absolute winner of a tune that is stylistically reminiscent of Keni Burke's finest songs (think of, say, Never Stop Lovin' Me or One Minute More). The track first impresses with its undulating mid-tempo groove, highlighted by excellent, nuance-sensitive work by guitarist Jonathan Dubose Jr. and drummer Elijah Holt, and when you add to that a gorgeous, ultra-soulful melody written by Kendall Duffie, the result is a serious contender for tune of the year.
Other personal favourites include the sublime ballads Priority and Soul Mate. The former is a falsetto-led quiet stormer that brings back fond memories of such '90s masterpieces as Impromp2's Get Me Off and Portrait's All That Matters. The swaying Soul Mate features soulful sax work courtesy of Donald Hayes (remember his playing on the Whispers' definite version of Seven Whole Days?), not Kirk Whalum, as I erroneously claimed in our printed issue.
Let's Not Lose, featuring Soul Express favourite Karen Bernod, is a joyful mid-pacer with funky bass licks and touches of trumpet. On Promise, which is another enjoyable mid-tempo number, the Incognito crew take care of production and instrumentation.
The album closes with four instrumentals that remind me of George Duke's recent material, with top accolades going to the ethereal On Kloud 9 and the hypnotic Keep Me Coming Around.
An outstanding debut album you can't afford to ignore. (9) -KH

The album of the Month in April 2002: Ledisi
The album of the Month in March 2002: The O'Jays
The album of the Month in February 2002: Jill Scott
The album of the Month in January 2002: N'Dambi

Albums of the Month in 2001
Albums of the Month in 2000
Albums of the Month in 1999
Albums of the Month in 1998
Albums of the Month in 1997

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