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The Soul Express Album of the Month

May 2004

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It's about Time
(US Three Keys; UK Expansion, 2004)
Soft And Warm - A Sexy Way (feat. Tony Terry) - Blessed - Right Through Me - Say Goodbye - Tomorrow (feat. Tony Terry) - No More - Holding Back The Years - Make It Through The Night - Strangers - Is It Good To You? - Holding Back The Years (Steppers Delight) - Superstar

This is Alyson's best effort to date by far.  Within 25 seconds of the opening song I was completely and utterly won over.  To me this sounds like a top-drawer sort of floater that we would have enjoyed back on a hot summer day in the mid-1980s but with a 2004 sensibility.  Alyson's cavernous and expansive vocals are elegeant and charming on this song and makes "Soft And Warm" one of the best songs of her career to date.  Of course, we have been waiting a LONG time for this CDI think it was in 1998 that I was musing over the Marcus Johnson album, "Chocolate City Groove" and hoped to see more work from the Lady. 

Tony Terry has never been an artist whom I could connect with, although his latest CD is worthy of a purchase.  He duets with Alyson on two songs, the first being the excellent "A Sexy Way" which is more contemporary without being a crass R&B track.  With "Blessed" we have an impassioned ballad that is produced by Nate Smith.  I particularly love the synths and piano on this and her vocal increase in strength until she rips out with backing vocalist, Tony Terry.  Marcus Johnson is the producer on the lovely ethereal ballad, "Right Through Me", and is made up completely with real instruments and therefore has a relaxed, quality-time feel to it. 

John Stoddard is responsible for the funky, chunky horn-laced stepper "Say Goodbye" which is a song that will be to many readers' liking.  The second Tony Terry, "Tomorrow" outing is too teeny R&B for my liking with megaphone "uh uh" all the way through it.  Don't bother with this; what has the basis of a good track has been wrecked by the pathetic megaphone homeboy touches.  Pathetic. 

Let's get back on track, as the late, great Johnny Taylor testified - and focus on the funkier more adult "No More" which comes from Messers Smith and Johnson as well as Alyson herself.  Very more-ish indeed.  Another thing that initially attracted me to this CD was the name Gerald McCauley who I saw listed as a producer.  His inclusion is the cover of Simply Red's "Holding Back The Years" which he takes and moulds into his own unique expression.  Alyson also does a wonderful job interpreting this - but I fear at the end of the day it is still a Simply Red classic and I would have preferred Gerald to give us a new song from his undoubted genius.  Excellent though this is! 

We go slightly Tony-fied for the John Stoddart produced "Make It Through The Night".  This has elements of Art N' Soul's "Ever Since You Went Away" in the chorus and melody - whether this was intentional or not I don't know but anoraks with long memories such as I will pick up on these nuances!  More original and more essential is the Marcus Johnson produced "Is It Good To You" which, for these ears, complete the CD.  The US bonus cuts are not to my taste, especially the R&B influenced "Superstar". 

I am very happy and impressed with "Its About Time".  We have what is a worthwhile CD and her very best and most consistent to date.  Do not overlook this CD of quality soul for 2004.

Albums of the Month in 2003
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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