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Soul Express CD of the Month - March 2010

Adriana Evans: Walking with the Night

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Walking with the Night

UK Expansion CD, 2010
1) Waiting 4:15 2) Suddenly 4:15 3) Midnight 4:01 4) Love Me On The One 4:12 5) Never Thought 3:57 6) Surrender 4:45 7) Astral Projection 2:13 8) Let You Get Away 4:04 9) Sooner Or Later 3:36 10) Walking With The Night 4:02 11) Weatherman 3:58 12) El Sol 6:14 13) Set In Stone 3:35 14) Weatherman (Extended 12" Mix) 4:55

I had a chance to see Adriana Evans performing live at the Luxury Soul Weekend 2006 (see pic on the right), and I was definitely impressed by her smooth yet very strong vocals. Adriana was first introduced to the music world as a neo-soul songstress in 1997, when her debut set Adriana Evans was released on RCA. Her mother Mary Stallings was a jazz singer, and her godfather jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, so Adriana was obviously influenced by jazz, but her recent albums have been musically rather mixed, containing plenty of world music and pop influences.

Luckily, she has now returned to a more soulful style, and I really rate this CD, her fifth, as her best so far. It is produced by Jonathan "Dred" Scott, who also produced Adriana's debut set and her first Expansion CD El Camino, and backgrounds are coloured by lots of real instruments like horns, flute, strings and vibes. Many of the musicians who played on Adriana's debut are also featured here: Craig T. Cooper visits on guitar, Sekou Bunch on bass, Herman Jackson on keyboards and Ndugu Chancler appears on vibes in place of Roy Ayers who played on Adriana's debut.

In this setting Adriana really shines with her vibrant soprano voice, and she has written several good songs together with her producer. All songs are new, and their style ranges from 60s and 70s soul-influenced movers to modern groovers, with not a single weak track among them.

The opening track Waiting has a deliberate Motown-ish feel, reminding me of Ebony Alleyne's best tracks. Weatherman is another solid retro-soul/funk tune in the early 70s Staple Singers mould, featuring a 3-piece horn section (saxophone, trumpet, trombone), real strings and a funky rhythm track played by drummer Gordon Campbell, Sekou Bunch and Craig T. Cooper. The track has been released as a 12" single, and it has been credited as the 100th single release by Expansion Records. The 12" Version has been also added to this CD as a bonus.

El Sol (revival of the track In the Sun from Adriana's debut) also has a nice 70s feel, sounding like something recorded by Minnie Riperton or The Emotions 35 years ago. The vibes and horns at the end are simply marvellous!

Of the more contemporary tracks, Suddenly is a classy new tune in a trumpet / flugelhorn coloured programmed setting, whereas Surrender is an uplifting uptempo tune with an Incognito-type modern vibe.

Highly recommended to anyone who liked Adriana's debut.
- Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express

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