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Soul Express Album of the Month - August 2006

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Always There

US Soulful Sound Music, 2006
1) Whispers In The Wind 2) Because Of You 3) Always There 4) Too Good For Words 5) I Do Remember You 6) Ellie 7) Why (When I Say Goodbye) 8) Cant Stop Thinking About You 9) Light My Fire 10) Proud Lion 11) Maybe It's Not So

If you want a classy album of soulful jazz then look no further than Mala Waldron. Mala is the daughter of pianist / composer Mal Waldron, so we should not be surprised that talent runs in the family! If you loved the more soulful, original vocals on the excellent Liberty Silver set, then this album is definitely for you.

My heart was instantly won over on track one, "Whispers In The Wind". This style of sophisticated soul-jazz is ageless, timeless and not heard enough in my humble opinion. The level of musicianship courtesy of Steve Salerno (guitarist), Miriam Sullivan (bassist) and Michael Thomson (percussionist) is flawless. They have the same professional, tight seamless delivery as does Jon Lucien’s current band. One cannot ask for better than that.

Sold already, I was floored by the beautiful and haunting "Because Of You", which has to be one of my songs ‘of the moment’. This song is the paramount of classy soul-jazz. I would stick my neck out and say that the album was essential for this song alone. Thankfully there is a LOT more on here to ensure you order a copy.

The chilled atmosphere of "Always There" is a great vehicle for her beautiful mellow, soulful alto voice to do its thing. Indeed, those who lean towards the more jazzier bag will plumb for the jazzy scat of "Too Good For Words" which would not be out of place on a Diane Schuur set, and "I Do Remember You" has a Latin acoustic flavour and was written for her Grandmother. This will sit nicely with lovers of the recently applauded "Soul Of Brasil" set.

The balance swings back towards a more soulful edge with the breezy "Can’t Stop Thinking About You". Think Khani Cole and you’re on the right track. Her cover of "Light My Fire" is very good indeed and very much in her own style – it certainly is a good version of a great song. Many have tried and failed it, and Male certainly does not fail but does it some justice through its originality. We have seen one song dedicated to her grandmother, and other songs on here are written by Mala for her mother and father also. "Proud Lion" speaks of her father and speaks volumes about the love that is there, and the spirited "Ellie" is written for her mother and climaxes with a very nice drum solo courtesy of Michael Thompson.

This is another classy set for 2006 and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
-Barry Towler

Other Fresh CD Reviews
Albums of the Month in 2006
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