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Terisa Griffin: Revival of Soul

Reviewed by Ismo Tenkanen

Rating: 9/ 10

Soul Express CD of the Month - October-December 2015

Soul Express Album of the Year 2015

US My Naked Soul Productions CD, 2015
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1) Save Me (A Woman's Testimony) [Explicit] 6:19 2) Intro Revival Interlude 1:47 3) Tonight Is the Night 5:07 4) Cotton Candy Kisses (Oral Pleasure) 4:55 5) Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You) 4:52 6) Revival Interlude (Love Look) 1:10 7) Naked 4:48 8) Distant Lover 5:28 9) Purple Like the Moon 5:34 10) Revival Interlude (Ain't Love Grand) 1:28 11) Swimming Higher 4:50 12) Talking About Love 5:12 13) Ain't No Need (Musician Song) 5:33 14) Revival of Soul (Reflection) 1:26 15) Revival of My Soul 5:03

Personally, I have no troubles at all naming the soul album of the year in 2015. Terisa Griffin, whose first full-length album from 2006, My Naked Soul, was my album of the year in 2006, is back. Her brand new release has aptly been titled Revival of Soul, and it's even better than her previous, strong albums. Excellent songs, mostly new material, superb soulful vocals and solid real instrumentation. This is not retro-soul, this is just 100 % genuine modern soul, indeed "a revival of soul". Welcome back, Terisa!

The album opens with a highly impressive song Save Me (A Woman's Testimony), a strong candidate for the track of the year. It is a dramatic new composition self-penned by Terisa, with meaningful lyrics and most of all, an instantly compelling musical backdrop and dynamic, emotional vocals. What a great opening for a great album.

Cotton Candy Kisses is laced with Spanish guitar by Agustin Alvarez and percussion by Lenny Castro, a delicious airy setting and tasteful vocals by Terisa. In my 2016 interview with Terisa, she mentioned that if she would record an album of cover songs, Aretha Franklin's Oh Me Oh My would be on top of her list, and now we have a chance to hear Terisa interpreting this tune. Not an easy song to cover, but a truly impressive reading.

In a similar way, Distant Lover is another cover song, this time from Marvin Gaye's repertoire, and Terisa offers a gorgeous, sax-drenched (Marqueal Jordan on tenor saxophone) version of the classic tune.

Back to the original tunes, as all the other songs but these two aforementioned cover tunes are original new songs written and published by Terisa herself. Naked is also new material, and not from her My Naked Soul set despite the title. It is built over a sophisticated real instrumentation by drums, piano, bass and guitar, over which Terisa deliver an Anita Baker-ish wailing vocal performance.

Purple Like the Moon is another personal favorite on the album, a pulsating mid-tempo tune with meaty bass playing by Joewaun "Jay Red" Scott, Lenny Castro's perussions and crowned by Orbert Davis' trumpet solo.

Finally, my own number song on this wonderful album: Talking about Love has a bit Teena Marie-ish feel, an extremely powerful vocal delivery over a swaying, Spanish guitar (Agustin Alvarez again) -laced backing which gradually gathers the intensity towards the end. The album closes with a lyrically touching story of domestic violence, a song titled Revival of My Soul. Strong message, strong lyrics, strong vocals!

Actually there are no weak moments on the whole album, just good or excellent tracks. Maybe someone else would have missed funky or uptempo soul tunes, as Terisa also excelled at upbeat songs on her previous set Soulzophrenic, but personally I'm perfectly happy with this combination of ballads and tasty midtempo tunes. No compromises to dance floors, this time.

Downloads of this album are available on CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes, and also real "hard copy" CD version are currently available at London's Soul Brother and Simply Soul soul shops. Like Howard Tate once put it, get it while you can!

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