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Michon Young: Love, Life, Experiences

Reviewed by Ismo Tenkanen

Rating: 8/ 10

Soul Express CD of the Season - Summer 2017

US Atlanta Records CD, 2017
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1) Feeling Alright
2) So Glad
3) Count It a Lesson
4) Oooh
5) Something about You
6) Heart Led Me to You
7) Love on Me
8) Can't Do This No More
9) Undivided Attention
10) Colourless Tears
11) Let's Go Back
12) Love Makes You
13) Everyday

The first time I heard Michon Young singing was on a UK radio show on the Internet in July 2016, and I was instantly impressed. It was a track titled Something about You, which was available at CD Baby and I downloaded the track and still rate it as the best soul track in 2016. I would describe this track as Impromp2 meets Anita Baker; the song contains superb trumpet soloing (played by T.L. Williams) plus a meaty bass line, over which Michon sings like Anita Baker or Phyllis Hyman during their heyday. If you think I'm exaggerating, just believe your own ears and listen to the YouTube clip below:

Of course, I've been eagerly waiting for a new (her second) album from Michon ever since. It was finally released in April, but only in download format. Now the CD copies are finally available, although almost impossible to acquire for us European soul lovers, as the only distributor Ropeadope sells them on Amazon - but only to US citizens! Please contact us if you have troubles getting yourself a copy and we'll help! US readers can easily get a copy from Amazon, using the Amazon link above.

I was delighted to note that Chris Wells of Echoes Magazine interviewed Michon as soon as the album was out, and placed Michon on the front cover of Echoes. Chis started his introducion of Michon by stating that "No two ways about it, Michon Young sounds a lot like Anita Baker. Not all the time, sure, and never to the point where it feels it's merely an imitation - yet the influence is - pleasingly - there, nonetheless."

Indeed, Michon has the Anita flavour in her deep and mature voice, yet her music is more "up-to-date" and closer to Impromp2 type of meaty soul & funk, based on real instruments. What is the best thing on the new album, even the most modern cuts are more than tasteful, building an instant, compelling groove by superb musicians, the melodies are ALL new and of a very high standard - and yes, there are string of extremely soulful ballads for those who were hungry for her moody ballad interpretations in the Anita mode.

However, I hasten to add that the album is not a retro-soul album sounding something that was recorded 20-40 years ago, instead it sounds very fresh - but this is the type of music I would love Anita Baker to record today - if she were active again! Maybe the funkiest cuts like the glorious bass-driven swayer Count It a Lesson is something Anita would never had recorded - but I just love this robust funk sound behind Michon wonderful vocals. One of the best tunes I've heard this year!

Other great personal favorites on the album include the delicious laid-back midtempo floater So Glad - I simply adore the keyboard work by Marvin Thompson, the fat bass by Jason Phelps and superb real drumming by Marquis Johnson. The composition is a real grower that sounds better with each play - not to mention the absolutely stunning vocal delivery by Michon. A much more instant groover is Oooh, which also seems to be the most played track (after the single release Something about You) on Spotify. The percussion work by Jurrell McNair is spectacular and there is a touch of trumpet, too - maybe Michon should really recruit Johnny Britt (of Impromp2) on her next album!

The most obvious Anita Baker -influenced ballad on the album is a tune entitled Love on Me, which Chris Wells already compared to The Best Thing Yet, and I'm sure the devoted Baker fans would also love tracks like Colorless Tears, Love on Me, Everyday and Love Makes You, although the musical setting on those tunes is not even close to the mid-80s sounds of The Rapture period.

A strong contender for the album of the year in 2017.

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