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Soul Express Album of the Month - April 2007

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El Camino

UK Expansion, 2007
1) Hey Now 2) All For Love 3) Calling Me 4) Underneath The Stars 5) Before You 6) Blue Bird 7) Never Knew 8) Blue Bird In Bahia 9) World On Fire 10) Same As I Ever Was 11) Undercover 12) El Camino

Oh yes! This is definitely up my street. The long-awaited El Camino set will sure to please those who fell in love with this Lady back to her debut set an incredible decade ago. The lively music often forays into the heady rhythms of the hotter climes of Brasil and the music does not suffer one iota from that at all. The confusion and schizophrenia inherant in the “Nomadic” set has been replaced by coherence and SOUL.

I was immediately impressed with the funky drum and guitar laced swayer which is “Hey Now”. This basically sets the stall out for the album. There is more of this vibe from “All For Love” which utilises more by way of horns and vibes – and hurrah for that! The contemporary sounding “Calling Me” is both haunting and clubworthy in the same breath. Adriana Evans and producer Jonathan Scott have expertly mouled the surreal with the club sound and have made a fantastic track to boot. There is little today that sounds as good or fresh as this track.

“Underneath The Stars” is lovely, simply put. Adriana gives a beautiful vocal performance here and again proves that she is a real star. The (dare I call it) old school feel to “Before You” unashamedly lures us into the much longed for Summer; warm breezes and blue skies. Talking of which we move onto the dreamy and jazzy “Blue Bird” which has some tasty horns which reminds me of Roy Ayers' mid 70s efforts than anything else. Additionally, “Blue Bird In Bahia” is a real killer. I am a sucker for a Brazillian rhythm. There is something so primal about the percussion...anyone who has encountered Shamanic drumming will know what I mean. It carries the listener aloft to higher places, and the heady instrumentation on this song is second to none. I have played this song to death, and I will always be spinning this track, possibly more than any other on here.

“Never Knew” is more gentle, the light percussion, Latin guitar and flute intertwine producing a most relaxing aural brew. “World On Fire” is more contemporay and the backbeat more programmed. Its lyrics are damning of the current situation in Darfur and the repeating question “Tell Me Why” is of course, rhetorical. However the fact that there is no real answer is the most upsetting of all. Nice to see some social conciousness creeping back into today's R&B. And, if you want a full-blown foray into politcal comment then please check out the latest Donnie album on the UK Dome label. Powerful stuff.

I was impressed with the summery “Undercover Lover” which takes us back to more personal issues, and the excitement of sparks flying between two people. There is nothing better on Earththan that. This very healthy set closes with the superb – if criminally short – title track, “El Camino”. Again, the Latin flavour is strong and the emphasis is on Adriana's gorgeous harmonies. A beautiful, beautiful Lady with a beautiful, beautiful voice. Do not miss!
-Barry Towler

Other CD Reviews
Albums of the Month in 2007
Albums of the Month in 2006
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Albums of the Month in 2002
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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