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Soul Express CD of the Month - June 2009

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Let's Stay Here

US E1 Music/Koch CD, 2009
1) Feelin' Good 4:53 2) Picture You The Way That I Do 4:39 3) We Can't Stay Here 5:36 4) No Way To Love Me 5:59 5) Another Day Has Come And Gone 5:05 6) Best That I Can Do 4:29 7) Let's Stay Here 5:41 8) Don't Explain 5:35 9) Yesterday 5:08 10) Act Of Forgiveness 7:29

Now this is the kind of soul music I prefer Oleta Adams to sing! Oleta has been one of my favourite female singers in last two decades, but the material she has recently recorded has varied from gospel, pop and dance music to Christmas songs, and she hasn't had a decent chance to show off what kind of a brilliant soul vocalist she really is. Her guest performance on smooth jazz artist Al Turner's album, an absolutely brilliant track titled Your Will demonstrated that given the right kind of material, Oleta easily creates vintage soul, and now she finally has released a whole album of classy, mellow soul music.

On this album, Oleta offers an Anita Baker-ish mellow ballad and mid-tempo setting, often flavoured by saxophone, trumpet and acoustic piano, and she sings mainly self-written songs. These include a couple of real gems, and the overall level is sky-high. Actually the only cover tunes are the opening track, a version of Nina Simone's recording Feelin' Good, and the Billie Holiday classic Don't Explain - which also perfectly describe the atmosphere of this album.

Both cover tunes are very admirable, and the Nina Simone reading is highlighted by a smoky saxophone solo, but I personally still prefer the original tunes. We Can't Stay Here is a velvety, sax-drenched ballad and although I've read lots of negative comments on the Web of Oleta singing "only quiet storm after quiet storm" on this album, I really think this is the kind of music I want to listen from Oleta - not the pop covers and dance material every one else seems to wish her to sing!

So, if you, like yours truly, prefer a timeless jazz/soul setting instead of trendy upbeat or R&B sounds, go and listen to the tracks like the aforementioned We Can't Stay Here, the cool trumpet-flavoured Another Day Has Come and Gone, and the ageless sax-laced ballad Act of Forgiveness. However, the absolute personal favourite on the album is the title track Let's Stay Here. It contains lyrics like "sipping mojitos and listening to Miles", which suits the late-night mood the song creates with its smooth percussive rhythm and Baker-ish acoustic piano (played by Oleta herself). Quality Time written all over it!
- Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express

Soul Express Video Pick from YouTube

Oleta Adams: Let's Stay Here

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