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New Voice
US Lola's Child, 2007
1) New Voice 2) I'm So Okay 3) Real Deal 4) Interlude – Keep It Loose 5) 1st Time 6) I Got U 7) Kan I Keep It 8) Teo's Intro 9) Send Me Somebody To Love 10) You Made The Difference 11) Why Can't I See (Feat) Eric Roberson) 12) Has2B 13) Interlude – Keep It Tight 14) Very Well 15) Man You Love Blues

Kendra Ross is indeed a new voice. She is also a major new talent. If you are sold on classy, real soul albums which are more organic in approach then “New Voice” is the album for you. Musically, I would lay money down that this set was recorded live in one or two straight takes; pretty much how Big Brooklyn Red runs the show. This, though is slicker, more polished and simultaneously appeals to the soul lover and the jazz head. Vocally, Kendra can be proud of her silky delivery. If you love the kind of classy female soulful jazzy vocalist that the Editor and connoisseur, Ismo Tenkanen, has a knack of picking up on for his Quality Time section then look no further!

I am particularly struck by the method in which she employs her voice in places. Some songs have a sensitive, almost lislting Babyface type quality to the approach of the vocals. Othertimes, on jazzier numbers such as “Real Deal” we are treated to a more expresssive Regina Belle style. It is on the ballads – of which are legion – that this Lady shines. The haunting “I'm So OK” offeres that Babyface lilt atop a sumptously rich backing of real, live instrumentation. This track alone cannot be beaten, let alone all other gems on offer. “1st Time” is another classy portrayal of Kendra's monster talent. This material is, to me, worthy of Norman Connors at his very best. “Send Me Somebody To Love” could be lifted straight from Bostick's CD and the sassier side of Kendra's vocals are slowly revealed.

The gentle, acoustic, “You Made The Difference” is another Babyface styled number – and very nice it is too! However, beating this hands down is the essential duet with none other than indie hero Eric Roberson, “Why Can't I See”. If this not a killer cut then I don't know what is! I defy you not to love this song.

Another killer tune is the richly toned “Has2B” which is dreamy and all-encompasing. The orchestration is spot on and enveoples you in a cotton-wool of warm, jazzy soul, tied up with strings and flute. I have to say that 2007 has not been the year of class as I expected it to be, but in such times albums like this scream out at you demanding attention. Please do not allow this gem to slip away – order it now before all your pay gets wasted on things like the mortgage, the kids, the wife, the car and the awful bills!
- Barry Towler

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