Soul Express CD Review
Downloadable from iTunes, CD release November 2011
Baby Your Lovin' - Have You Around - Brother - I Just Wanna Give It - Life Again - Then Its Over - Everything I Am - Because Of Yesterday - Little Things - Always - Love
At time of writing this is probably one of the only NEW albums you would want
to own with 2011 attached to it. Funnily enough, the album sounds like it was recorded
in the early 1970s! Electric Empire are from Melbourne, Australia and are
comprised by Dennis Dowlut, Jason Heerah, Aaron Mendoza and
Marcel Yammouni. They describe their sound - very accurately in my opinion -
as "Live Original Funky, Soulful,Spiritual, Sexy Music". They also go a bit further
and cite Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway and Motown back
in 1974 as the foundation for their sound. I was seriously and genuinely blown away
on my first hearing of this album... it really is warm, rich, soulful and REAL.
Hurrah for Australia and yah boo! to America for beautiful music such as this in 2011.
I cannot fault any single track on this set and in fact have played it to death ever
since I came across it.
Comprising of 11 tracks, the album kicks of very much in a warm, summery Memphis mode - think Booker T. Jones' brand new set (review coming soon!) and you're not far off what we have with "Baby Your Lovin'". I think that if you loved the Al Green "Lay It Down" set and ""You've Got The Love I Need" and "Stay With Me (By The Sea)" especially then this track is for you! "Have You Around" is a gorgeous mid-pacer and works extremely well because of being composed of nothing but real singing and live instrumentation. Can't beat this mix, and the rest of the set testifies to that. If you love Stevie Wonder and mourn the fact that his best work lie in the early-mid 1970s then check the rest of the album out...however said, Electric Empire are NOT out to clone Stevie Wonder...but my goodness have they nailed the essence, beauty and genius of Stevie Wonder on here!!! That said, the band (and I can use than much flaunted word in it's truest sense here) really are their own magnificent beast.
This is evident on "Brother" which could easily sit alongside any of Stevie's 1970s Motown classics and hold it's own. My God, this is superb stuff. The warmth of "I Just Wanna Give It" echos with a summery Curtom or Fantasy feel and is a serious highlight of this album. I cannot get through the spiritually and socially aware "Life Again" without getting dewy eyed...Stevie Wonder should look at his recent works and then listen to this and realise that he's - for the moment - lost his game...this is EXACTLY the gorgeous material that this legend would have laid down between 1972 - 1974...why can't we have a new set like this, Stevie, instead of working with the likes of Pixie Lott (yes, I kid you not!)...flowing like warm water into "Then Its Over" the wonderful stream of warm, real music continues. "Then It's Over" makes us sit up and beg for more - and more is exactly what we get with "Everything I Am" which takes artists like Maxwell and D'Angelo and shows them how to do the job properly!
The brilliance of Electric Empire shines through every song, every melody and one can tell that they are true, crafted musicians and tender souls to boot...the beautiful acoustic soul of "Because Of Yesterday" bows to Stevie Wonder again without overtly trying to be him. The laid back and melancholic "Little Things" is a must as is "Always" with it's haunting harmonies and socially conscious lyrics. This is blinding material and rains down on today's...insipid...releases from a great height. the final cut, complete with bluesy guitar, organ and Curtis Mayfield cum Prince styled vocals will also satisfy your soul. Although at time of writing this set is available for download only, the album is due a release through Soul Trader in November. Whatever you decide to do, download or wait, don't let this set go...by far one of THE albums of 2011.
The Vibe Scribe
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