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Quality Time

Reviewing the quality soul picks from recent CD albums


TAMMY HARRIS Come Over

From US Roots Soul Productions CD Natural Vibe

You only need to look at the choices for the cover tunes – You Know How to Love Me (by Phyllis Hyman) and Never Knew Love Like This Before (by Stephanie Mills) – to realise where Tammy Harris is coming from. The trumpet and flugelhorn-colored Come Over is arguably the peak of her new album Natural Vibe, and it’s the kind of track you recognise from the first seconds as a Quality Time tune. The lyrics “mesmerised by the sparkle in your eyes” reflect the luscious overall feel of the track, boasting an infectious bass line, lively real drums and Ron Haynes blowing the tasty trumpet and flugelhorn solos virtually from beginning to end.

ELAINE STEPTER The Woman I Am

From US Eee Project Records CD The Woman I Am

Elaine Stepter’s 12” single The Sweetness of Your Love was reviewed in Soul Express back in 1990, so we’re not talking about a rookie here. Her album The Woman I Am was our album of the month last August, and it contains rather conventional, no-frills soul music, actually very similar to the Tammy Harris CD we just mentioned. The title track of the album is a smooth mid-tempo glider with intense piano soloing over the laidback modern backdrop.

 

EUGE GROOVE feat. Ali-Ollie Woodson I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know

From US Narada Jazz CD Born 2 Groove

On this version of the classic Blood, Sweat & Tears tune, Ali-Ollie Woodson proves he’s still the best male vocalist in the history of soul music. This stripped-down ballad is deep soul for the 21st century. Take any revered soul throat, be it from the 1960s or any other decade, and he could not possibly top Ali-Ollie’s performance. Euge’s full-blooded saxophone playing is the icing on the cake.

 

JAMES DAY featuring AUDREY WHEELER What’s Been Going On (and How’d You Pull It Off)

From UK Soul Vibe Recordings CD Better Days

Audrey Wheeler alias Mrs Will Downing has gradually become one of the most significant female singers in today’s soul scene. Her singing nowadays is so thrilling and throaty that it is difficult to find a contemporary point of comparison. Joe Cunningham’s tasty saxophone playing adds more passion to the atmospheric burner. Our kind of soul!

 

EVONNE RIVERA Scent

From US Sweet Bottom CD What If

Pasadena, California based singer Evonne Rivera excels on this subtle sax-drencher lilter, co-penned by Evonne herself. Very smooth, very relaxed, very elegant.

 

KENDRA ROSS featuring ERIC ROBERSON Why Can’t I See?

From US Lola’s Child Music CD New Voice

Kendra Ross is a Jill Scott influenced new songstress, and the cream cut on her debut album is this intensive ballad duet with Eric Roberson. One to grow on you.

 

LEDISI In the Morning

From US Verve CD Lost & Found

Ledisi’s Verve debut album is more R&B-flavoured than we perhaps would have hoped for, but it did earn her a top 10 position on the Billboard R&B chart, so there’s a silver lining on the cloud. In the Morning has a captivating, slowly churning groove in the background, over which Ledisi turns and spins with her incredibly soulful vocal acrobatics. Brilliant.

 

2TONE featuring JAMES KING Something New

From UK Soulvibe compilation CD In the Groove

Something New sounds like a track from a 1980s Norman Connors album. Ex-Futures singer James King provides the mature lead vocals over the stylish soprano sax laced background.

 

VICTOR BROOKS Lovin’ You Baby

From US Victor Brooks CD Samba Soul

Victor Brooks offers an exotic fusion of soul and bossa nova on his debut album, combining strong Brazilian rhythms with American soul and funk grooves. Lovin’ You Baby is a tune that you might expect to find on Ed Motta’s albums, while Victor’s Maxwell styled vocals should appeal to neo-soul fans.

 

CHAKA KHAN Angel

From US Burgundy CD Funk This

To be honest, Chaka’s latest album was too rock-oriented to our “conservative” minds, intoxicated with soul music for decades and decades, but this very much traditional soul ballad is definitely much more to our liking. Excellent vocals from Chaka.

 

CHANDRA CURRELLEY Think about It

From US Urspijaz CD The Real Me

Chandra Currelley is the former lead singer of S.O.S Band, and The Real Me is her second solo project. The title of the album obviously refers to the religious lyrical content of her new set, but the actual music is as modern and soul-inclined as on her debut album. Think about It is an excellent showcase of Chandra’s ability to improvise and scat in a genuinely inspiring way.

 

THE TEMPTATIONS Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up / I’m in Love / Love Ballad / Wake up Everybody

From US New Door CD Back to Front

The new lead singer of the Temptations, Bruce Williamson, certainly gets thumbs up on this Website. Even though the overall concept of the album, covering well-known soul songs all over again, is not that exciting, the latest CD by the Temps is much more worthwhile than their previous attempt to revitalise some old Motown chestnuts. This time, the choices to cover are much more to our personal taste, and Bruce really tears down the lyrics on such classics as I’m In Love, Wake up Everybody and Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up. Meanwhile, Terry Weeks does a pretty good job while covering the Jeffrey Osborne (L.T.D.) classic Love Ballad.

- PR, IT


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