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Soul Express Album Review


RICARDO
Hold Tight
(US Two Brothers, 2007)
1) Say What You Say 2) Just A Matter Of Time 3) If You Love Me 4) Down Time 5) Venetian Blinds 6) Whenever, Whatever 7) Farewell To Love 8) Hold Tight 9) I'm Lost 10) Livin' Without You 11) Since You've Been Gone 12) If You're Really Concerned 13) You've Always Been The Only One 14) I Don't Know 15) Venetian Blinds

This is actually the gentleman's second album, and in my mind the stronger of the two. Production comes from the mighty J, and they really have come up with the goods on a number of songs. If you, like me, loved the Detroit sounds of Kevin McCord and One Way then you will love some of the songs on here. “Down Time” is a gentle song which has One Way circa 1984 stamped all over it. The production is sensibly sympathetic to Ricardo's smoother, more laid back vocals and the acoustic guitar and bass reflect this perfectly. Running at almost 8 minutes this is one hell of a track. Usually I get bored with longer tracks of this nature, but J has enough savvy to craftily keep the gentle backing constantly changing and re-emphasising the theme of the song.

The funky guitar / organ opening along with Ricardo's sagely monologue take us back to an era gone by, forgotten by today's companies, and the rattly, percussive “Hold Tight” is a real joy to the ears. I particularly love the wavering synth in the background. This track is ambitious in that if handled by a less professional team would be disjointed and unmelodious. Far from it here! A more straightforward rhythm accompanies the excellent “I'm Lost”, and the acoustic guitar atop the synth adds extra appeal.

A track I cannot stop playing is the superbly 80s orientated “Livin' Without You”. The keyboards here are straight out of the Cliff Dawson / Chuck Cissel early 80s period and I LOVE IT! The backing rhythm is more genteel new jack swing if anything can be called so much and Ricardo almost whispers reverentially through the song. It is absolutely superb, and the wistful manner that is adopted is perfect for the man's voice. I am a person who likes to 'feel' music, and the synth they use so splendidly on here hits me right in the solar plexus. Excellent!

Fans of 80s indie material such as Randall Germaine etc will jump at the sheer retro flavoured “You've Always Been The Only One”. Again, the backing vocals have that Chance Records sort of appeal, and both of these appeal to me. OK, these independent releases don't have the financial muscle of the big boys, but give me a small company on a smaller budget who have love and sincerity any old day! “I Don't Know” is my final pick, and is more up to date with its jostling beats and -again- haunting understated synths.

This album comes recommended and can be found on CD Baby. Go along and take a listen, you will not be disappointed, especially by the above choices!
- Barry Towler

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