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Soul Express Album of the Month - November 2007

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Read the fresh 2008 interview with Impromp2!

It Is What It Is

US JCS, 2007
1) It Is What It Is 2) Luv 2 Ball 3) Good Thang 4) I Wanna Know 5) Keep Doin' 6) I Wanna Marry U 7) Mojazz 8) You're a Queen 9) Dance with U 10) It's Alright 11) It Was Love

It is really hard to believe that this is the fourth set from Sean E Mac and Johnny Britt, and as far as quality goes, the gents have come up trumps yet again, delivering a set as equally strong as their last album. Steve Harvey does not play a part on this set, but the spirit of his excellence is symbiotic with that of Impromp2 and without looking at the booklet credits you would think he still had a hand in this.

Proceedings, therefore, are seamless. Impromp2 have, for some, always caused a bit of puzzlement; a fact played nicely upon in the title song of the album. I hunted for their first CD in a major store in London back in 1995, only to find it tucked away in the rap section. As if. Onto the opening salvo, the tongue-in-cheek yet incisor sharp “It Is What It Is”, opening with a dialogue from a rather less informed radio jock, only to be told by Sean that they are NOT new, they are respected among their peers, and furthermore make music we like to hear. Correct on all points, sunshine!

There follows a low-down dirty funky groove with a sexy bassline and Isleys / Chris Jasper era type keys thrown in for good measure. A salvo of questions hit the chaps from a number of voices asking whether it be hip hop, soul, pop, R&B, funk, neo-soul etc...the answer according to the soulful chorus is what it is. This wonderful fusion of soul, jazz and softly spoken rap suits Impromp2 to the ground. They are not finished there, though. “You're A Queen” is a splendid track and is receiving a lot of interest of Urban radio stateside. In this offering, a message is sent to ALL women about not allowing themselves to be portrayed as objects by the brainless R&B / Rap industry – the videos typifying women as only able to wear next to nothing or shaking their booty. Oh yes, and let's not forget the endless parade of car bumpers or basketball courts. As Sean says, he hates to think of his small children g rowing up seeing that and ascribing to that thinking. The “music industry” is sick and thank God for the likes of Impromp2 for a dash of sanity and intelligence.

More intelligence is proved in their uptempo reading of Marvin's “You Sure Love To Ball”, renamed here as “Luv 2 Ball”. This will do some business in the UK. I also really love the celebratory track, “MoJazz” which is very Take 6 in orientation. The muted trumpet comes into its own, and a special nod is made to J Spencer who sadly passed away a few years back. The song hails the famed Jazz label which sadly disappeared in 1997. Such a pity. “Dance With You” is another uptempo number which is as musically rich as you like. The instrumentation is, as you would expect, beyond reproach. One of my personal favourites is “Good Thang” which, in style, is straight from their début set back in 1995. “Keep Doin'” also hits the mark and best displays their wonderful harmonies. Superb, superb, superb.

If this isn't enough to log onto and listen to the gentle and jazzy “It's Alright” and fresh and fruity “I Wanna Know” with its Stanley Clarke-like guitar – again, a reflection of their first CD. This album is extremely strong, and certainly sits alongside the best of the current crop of heavy hitters. Please do NOT ignore this album. It should be a punishable offence not to own a copy!
- Barry Towler

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