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Soul Express CD of the Month - July-August 2011



US My Naked Soul Productions CD, 2011
Buy this album from our CD Shop
1) You Got Me 4:32 2) What About You 5:37 3) Moma Said 4:35 4) The Night I Fell In Love 5:28 5) My Violin 4:43 6) Making Love 4:42 7) I'm Wondering 4:43 8) Simply Beautiful 4:26 9) I Confess 4:32 10) Do You Still 4:57 11) This Time I'll Be Sweeter 4:19 12) Over and Over 5:12 13) I Can See Through It All 5:05

Five years has passed since Terisa Griffin's previous album My Naked Soul, which was our album of the month in December 2006, and also my album of the year in 2006. In her record label introduction, it took "4 years of writing and soulful tears dropping to form this masterpiece", her latest album Soulzophrenic, and I can assure you it has been worth the wait. The new album is even better than My Naked Soul - again a very strong candidate for the soul album of the year.

Frankly, the competition for "the album of the year" has not been tough this year, at least at this time time of the year when first eight months have soon passed. Only Aretha Franklin's new album A Woman Falling Out of Love competes in the same league, but it was withdrawn from the market when the CDs that were on sale were all defective on one track. Let's see if it's ever released officially!

Terisa Griffin was interviewed in our magazine after the release of her previous set, and in her interview she mentioned Aretha as one of her influences, whereas Ledisi and Jill Scott were her favourites among the younger generation of soul singers. Her own vocals have been compared to Ledisi, but also to Anita Baker and Oleta Adams, all of which describe what kind of a talent Terisa is. The biggest difference between Ledisi and Terisa is now that while Ledisi has found great success from the teen oriented R&B market, Terisa is still singing Real Soul. Only on one or two tracks on the new album we can hear strong programmed beats in the R&B tone, but great majority of the album represents classic soul.

The first half of the album contains nothing but ballads, and I first wondered if Terisa had decided to record an albumful of ballads. But then on the latter half we are offered a couple of uptempo tunes, and they are actually so good I would have rather heard even more of them. Especially Over and Over has an almost classic Temptations type of quality in the arrangement, featuring wonderful trumpet and piano playing over the bass-y backdrop, and at the end of the song Terisa does some scat singing - superb stuff. Simply Beautiful is built on a meaty bass line over which Terisa adds her churchy vocals, whereas This Time I'll Be Sweeter is NOT the old Angela Bofill song but a relaxed new mid-swayer written by Terisa and producer Terry Hunter (who did the remix of Sunshine). In the previous decades, this could have been a major hit for Terisa.

Still, the main course on the album are the big-voiced ballads. All tracks on the new album are new and at least partly self-written by Terisa, and the most memorable songs include the powerful opening You Got Me, the equally arresting What about You and the string-laden My Violin. I'm Wondering has a hint of R&B in the form of loud programmed beats, but the actual song carries socially conscious lyrics that were once a feature that was popular in soul music - whereas nowadays it seems that only hip-hop artists continue the old black music tradition of message songs.

The bonus track on the CD, I Can See through It All takes Terisa into completely different territory, electronic dance music, and actually Terisa's second release this year is a house version of this album, entitled Soulzophrenic Dance.
- Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express

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