1) You Touched My Heart 2) You Love Me 3) Youíre Contagious 4) Me Around 5) More Than Friends
6) Stay 7) Canít Let Go 8) Toss ĎNí Turn 9) Open Your Soul 10) Rain 11) No More Love
(Diskonauts Remix) 12) Things You Say (Markydisco Jazzy Remix)
YES! This is exactly what I want to hear: REAL soul by REAL singers. Call me an old fart if
you like, but I really do not believe that most of what is touted today as "great music"
is really great music. It takes a real artist with some individuality, creativity and
personality Ė as well as passion for real music Ė to grab my attention nowadays.
Ward Brown and his friend Sherrod Brown have already received plaudits from
many including myself this year for their aptly titled "Labor Of Love" set and I was
cockahoop to see that the gents had deigned to serve us up with another platter of real
soul food prior to Christmas. So what of this album? Itís not as good as the last one.
No. Itís a LOT better! And that is some mean feat too. The love and passion of the
music is obvious in every note, every word and every breath. The defenders of soul are
on the offensive again and wish to capture more hearts and minds with their warm,
smooth and earthy production, which hark back to the days when music was real.
There isnít a bad track on here and is a very worthwhile purchase.
I loved it from first listening, but I have found that it has grown on me even more
after each play.
What better song to open this album Ė "You Touch My Heart". THOSE dreamy keys and fluid
synth and drums support some tasty Dramatics-styled vocals with Ward even picking up
some of L.J. Reynolds vocal style for good measure. This really is a top-draw
track and if you like this then it will no nothing but auger well for the rest of the album.
"You Love Me" again is a tour-de-force of real instruments, singing and a musical
direction that powers the song forward. I am sure that you will live this song, too.
One song I know has been a hit on the UK soul scene is the aptly titled "Youíre Contagious".
If ever a track has been on repeat play then it has been this. Its mid 80s vibe is sure to
get my approval, and I guarantee this will be a track Iíll be enjoying for many years to come.
If you like a more 70s flavour then the gentle "Canít Let Go" will be one for you.
The song has echoes of the recent work by The Temptations when Bo Henderson
was fronting the group. There is a raw passion, a rough edge and a power behind these
vocals and the sympathetic if understated instrumentation allows this to shine in the
limelight. Great stuff indeed. "Open Your Soul" blasts off with an early 70s Motown
feel to it, and the gutsy groove rests on a funky bass; the ricochet-type drum also
adds some extra dimension too. The vocals again speak a lot of classic male soul
vocalists of years gone by. I often used to ask Ďwhere today are the type of great
voices from yesterday?í Here they are. Well, two of them at least.
Another song that I particularly rave about is the beautiful "Rain". This is classic
soul balladry that is all too rare nowadays. I can hear echoes of
Harry Ray / Ray, Goodman & Brown here, and whether that is intentional or not
I donít care. It sounds FANTASTIC.
I really applaud all concerned with this project and take a bow to them. This is exactly
the sort of material that many of you will want to hear Ė and with Christmas coming up
upon us there is no excuse for not owning this set. It should be massive, and deserves
all the play and attention it gets. This album is available from www.soulchoonz.com.
The official US Release will be on SoulChoonz Records in December 2006. Highly recommended.
- Barry Towler