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The Soul Express Album of the Month

February 2004

Note: Read the fresh interview with Gabrielle Goodman from our printed issue 1/04

(US Goodness Music, 2003)
Brazilian Nights – Angel Eyes (feat. Walter Beasley) – Sometimes – Never Knew Love Could Be Like This Before (feat. Armsted Christian) – You Can Make The Story Right – Miles – Come Home – Fly Like An Eagle – I’ll Remember You – Brazilian Nights (reprise)
"Angel Eyes" is definitely the best offering to date from this Lady and as a CD it is 100% essential. Every song is a winner, there are no fillers and definitely no chaff amongst the wheat. Gabrielle Goodman has created a piece of art here for us connoisseurs of superior jazzy soul. Whereas a fair bit of her past work has been extremely jazzy, this album fully embraces the idioms of soul, quiet storm and jazz in one sultry, delicious sassy stew of a package.
Making guest appearances on this CD are two favourites of mine – saxophonist Walter Beasley, vocalist extrodinaire Armsted Christian and even Chaka Khan on backing vocals! Good, eh? I certainly think it is, and this CD is another strong contender for the quality time echelons for 2003. Vocally, if you adored the ultra talented Tracy Hamlin and her heavenly vocals on "My Funny Valentine" from Pieces Of A Dream’s "Love’s Silhouette" then you will immediately want this CD.
Opening with the Latin flavoured "Brazilian Eyes", Gabrielle lets rip with her flighty vocals over an acoustic guitar, lapping sea and other tropical sounds. George Duke would be proud of this song (whatever happened to "Brazilian Love Affair 2"?) and its direction, as would her old colleague, Norman Connors. So, from this extraordinary jazzy number we slip into sexier, slower gear with the chilled beat and even more chilled sax of Mr. Beasley. Comparisons with Tracy Hamlin are very good here and if, like me, you loved Walter Beasley’s 1995 Mercury CD, "Private Time", and then this song will also be to your liking.
Track 3 is a KILLER. I love this song, written and recorded in 1993, and I can hear the ultra-soulful nuance of late 1970s Todd Rundgren in the melody that is simply gorgeous. Talking of killer ballads, after a performance like that how do, or can, you follow that up? With a searing ballad of top-drawer quality singing with Armsted Christian, that’s how. Those familiar with the man will know how much a talented singer and songwriter this man is. They duet here is magnificent and Armsted lowers his voice and in part reminds me of a number of singers, including elements of a certain Michael Henderson.
Following on from this is more beatier ballad, "You Can Make The Story Right" which is excellent and was based on the arrangement of the sadly missed Wayne Braithwaite. Miles Davis is remembered on this 1995 song simply called "Miles" featuring a talented trumpet solo performance from a gentleman called Dantae Winslow. This jazzy foray paves the way yet again for a sexy soul-jazz outing, "Come Home" featuring the unmissable sax of Anthony Grant.
"Fly Like An Eagle", a Steve Miller song, is given a jazzy reading and is for me perhaps the weakest moment of the CD – but even this is still a very good song. This simply highlights the sheer quality of this CD. The final full song is one written by Armsted Christian and is a fully-fledged highly soulful MOR excellence that would have a wider appeal to other adult listeners of other genres. I can imagine Phyllis Hyman would have been an excellent vehicle for this song during her Arista years. With the warm Brazilian seaside sounds and bird calls briefly finishing off the CD, one is left with a very warm and satisfying afterglow that is very healthy indeed.
What has 2004 got in store? More of the same, I pray. (9)
- Barry Towler

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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