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Soul Express Album of the Month - January 2008

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A Call To Conscience
US Izzy James, 2007
1) It's All Right 2) Change The World 3) This Way 4) Fallin' Sky 5) Stand Up 6) Caught Up 7) Something 8) Could It Be You? 9) Best We Can Do 10) You Make Everything All Rright 11) Your Love

The quality simply does not stop! Izzy James may well be a brand new name to me, but already he has won a similar respect and admiration that I ordinarily reserve for my all-time favourite artists. Along with the recent Embers CD this is essential from start to finish. The strengths of this CD are manifold. Musically if you adore the soulful, jazzy grooves as laid down by Me'na, Liberty Silver, Melissa Forbes then you will so want this album. Another more relevant comparison is with the superbly talented Nicolas Bearde. Love him and you'll love Izzy. As simple as that.

The album is strong not only vocally or musically, yet lyrically too. The title of the album sums up much of this set; a number of songs are socially conscious and are fantastic in they are not idealistic or fluffy, nor are they preachy. Izzy has his head on straight and is not afraid to ask the listener questions about family life, politics and justice. Holier than thou he is not, but it is indeed a call to conscience. "Best We Can Do" attacks the steady erosion of liberty and rightly states, "the writing is on the wall". In fact, the situation is far worse than many could fear and as he rightly states of his fellow countrymen "wake up".

This clarion call is metered with the impressive "Change The World" and the intensely passionate and though-provoking "This Way". The answer, Izzy states is that things do not have to be the way they are. Amen to that! The scene is also set for matters of the heart, and on this matter Izzy has come up with some tracks that are simply mind-blowing. A track on here is going to be MASSIVE. "Caught Up" is a simple smash. I doubt that anyone hearing this will not be totally in love with it. The Carl Anderson / Nicolas Bearde style vocals are matched by a superb set of musicians, the real instrumentation and the sheer depth of care that has gone into the recording and delivery of the song is simply breathtaking. "Caught Up" is as strong as anything on The Embers CD, and if this is not a track to set the likes of Richard Searling, Ralph Tee, Mike Stephens and Tony Monson alight, then nothing on God's earth will.

Another smash is the Tower Of Power-ish brassy "Your Love", resplendent in smooth 70s keys, horns and percussion the replay button will, I have no doubt, be pressed a number of times. The funkier rhythm of "It's All Right" complete with excellent backing vocalists who are totally at home within the Hammond organ and horns. This slinky effort is repeated with "Something", which also benefits from slap bass and some nimble funky guitar work. "A Call To Conscience" is an album that can be put on from start to finish without you having to skip tracks. Certain songs, as I say, will be massive and will sound as fresh and essential in 30 years time. This is the real McCoy. Miss at your peril.
- Barry Towler

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