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Soul Express Album of the Month

October 2005

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BRIGETTE: Starlite Lounge
(UK Expansion, 2005)

1) Starlite Lounge 2) Much too Much 3) Star 4) My Oh My 5) One Wish 6) Is It Love 7) Betcha 8) Somehow 9) What Would You Say 10) Take Me 11) Lonely Girl 12) Yes My Dear 13) Agua De Beber 14) Take Me (Remix)

Brigette (McWilliams) recorded two promising soul albums in the 90s (Take Advantage of Me in 1994 and Too Much Woman in 1997), but on her latest set she introduces a completely new style. It has been reported that since her 90s recordings Brigette has married a wealthy Brazilian, and this certainly shows in her music. From the first few bars of the new album you'll instantly feel the luxurious Bossa Nova-ish musical setting with rich rhythms and instrumentation. The producer on the album is Steve Harvey, who seems to improve all the time and he can definitely modify his sound according to the artist, and not just try to alter their style to his own sound. Ralph Tee from Expansion just confirmed the rumour that there will be a new Ledisi album on the Expansion in November - and it will be produced by Steve Harvey. I can hardly wait!

Starlite Lounge is really a fine album, although it is self-evident that you have to like Bossa Nova and other forms of Brazilian or Latin music to really appreciate Brigette's current style. But if you liked the Latin-tinged feel on Janita's previous CD, you'll certainly enjoy this album, too. I also adore Brigette's mature, mellow vocal style, which perfectly fits the warm atmosphere of this CD.

There are so many classy tracks that listing the prime cuts is extremely difficult, and like on Ledisi's wonderful Soulsinger album, your favourite cuts probably vary at different times of the day. During the daytime, you'll probably enjoy the sunny and rhythmic uptempo tracks like the flute and saxophone coloured Much too Much, the more soul-oriented melodic mover Star (featuring Al McKay on guitar) or the joyous Take Me, again spiced with flute (by Luis Van Taylor).

Then in the evening you probably prefer the more mellow mid-pacers like the title track Starlite Lounge, which has a seductive Bossa Nova rhythm laced with strings and acoustic guitar, while Sekou Bunch plays the bass lines. Yes My Dear, Betcha and Agua de Beber (from the Antonio Carlos Jobim songbook, familiar from Astrudo Gilberto's repertoire) continue in the same, tasty Bossa Nova mould and represent the mixture of soul and Bossa Nova at its finest.

Finally, in the night-time it feels that tracks like the gentle ballad song Is It Love, the moody Lonely Girl or the elegant Somehow are the most attractive tunes on display.

The only track I don't personally care for is the Calypso-type tune One Wish, but I admit that its string arrangement is pretty impressive. Also, the dance remix version of Take Me is far inferior to the more relaxed and airy original version on the same album. But this still leaves us twelve superb cuts from this extremely talented songstress. Highly recommended! (Rating: 8/10)
-Ismo Tenkanen

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