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Soul Express Album of the Month - April 2005

(US DMH CD, 2005)
1. Ain't No Sunshine 2. Anything For You 3. Heartbreaking Feeling 4. Sundown 5. Prelude to Home 6. A Place Called Home 7. Seasons 8. Been There, Done That 9. Again 10. Because I Am Special 11. Still I Rise

Pieces of a Dream has introduced Tracy Hamlin's angelic voice on their last two albums, and now it's time for Tracy's debut solo set, entitled Seasons. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with jazz or smooth-jazz, despite the fact that several Pieces of a Dream members, Najee and other well-known jazz musicians are featured in the background. Instead, producer John Stoddart brings a distinct inspirational soul flavour on the album, and some tracks also have a hint of folk overtones. Anyway, Tracy gets a chance to shine over the airy backings, and she really sings superbly throughout the album.

The album opens with a respectable cover of Bill Withers' Ain't No Sunshine, but I prefer the rootsy soul ballad Heartbreaking Feeling, which sounds like a classic Aretha Franklin tune from the 60s. Another real highlight is the bright and beautiful title track Seasons, on which James Lloyd (of Pieces of a Dream) plays the stylish piano backing, and the rhythm has slight Latin influences. A timeless, classy ballad.

Najee is the featured flautist on Sundown, and his flute playing and Stan Cooper's guitar add some unique colour on this beautiful fingersnapper. I also enjoy the serene, spiritual atmosphere on the inspirational ballads A Place Called Home and Still I Rise. Even though the whole CD does not contain anything as mindblowing as Tracy's divine version of My Funny Valentine (on Pieces of a Dream's 2002 CD Love's Silhouette), the album is highly recommended to anyone who admires Tracy's truly unique, exciting soprano vocalising.
- Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express, editor

Albums of the Month in 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
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