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Soul Express CD Review

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(UK Expansion, 2005)
EMEL - Thinkin' About You / AVILA BROTHERS (Ft. SHELEA) - Let It Go / DANA DEVINE - So EZ / IAN MARTIN ft. GAVIN CHRISTOPHER - Brother / FUNKY BOUDOIR - Never Knew Love Like This / BRENDA VAUGHN - Sistuh's Shaking Up / DESSY DI LAURO ft. RIC'KEY PAGEOT / Dangerous Summer Night - MAYSA / KOKOH - How Far Can We Go / INNERVOICES - Slow Jam Of tHe Year / HEAVY - Do For You / DEE DEE WILDE - That Place In My Heart / DENISE TICHENOR - No Matter What The Weather May Be / ANE - Anytime, Any Place / PEGGI BLU - Can't Go Back (Remix)

Andreas Hellingh is on a bit of a roll at the moment - his collaboration with Ian Martin is definitely a recent highlight, and now he comes to ther fore again with this collection of what he describes as "15 stunning soul gems awaiting discovery". These tracks should go down a real storm both on radio and on the dancefloor and the man certainly has his finger to the pulse. Andreas is a true ambassador for Soul Music, and not only knows what he likes, but chases what he wants and is dogged in getting in - his ability to wrestle an album from our man Ali Woodson is testament to that.

This is a varied album, and many tracks really do grab me more than some others, as is always the case with any compilation, and I know that there is something on here for every devotee of that amazing broad church called soul music. We are treated to names both old, new and previously unknown - highlighting again the constant flux of today's scene.

The opening song by the young Swiss singer, Emel. The confident, relaxed acoustic song suits this young Lady's voice particularly well. I really like this and the melody is quite arresting, especially the lovely slap bass and backing vocals. Dana Divine's SUPERB gospel song "So EZ" was one of Richard Searling's favourites from 2004 and within a few moments it is not difficult to hear why. This is a gentle tapper with some delicate tinkling ivories and warm summery rhodes. Excellent vocals, too. I'd like to hear the album after this.

We are also treated to a super Ian Martin / Gavin Christopher cut, "Brother", from the "The Way" set, so if you check this CD out first then this song should give you a good enough taster to go out and grab a copy of that album. If you are looking for a truly mixed international flavour then you can't do better than Dessi Di Lauro and Ric'Key Pageot and what Andreas accurately describes her unique pan-ethnic influenced musical style. This is soulful, Latin and utterly scrumptious to boot. Her new project is soon to be released and this will be worth checking out if that's anything like this.

The real KILLER for me is the Leon Ware written and produced ballad "How Far Can We Go" by Kokoh. Kokoh is a classically trained ballerina! She signed with RCA and had her album produced by Leon Ware, Michael J Powell and Gerald Albright. What happened to this album???!!! Hopefully it is the same album that she is preparing for release now. Anyway, this has the Genius' fingerprints all over it and it is as classy as anything he has done in recent years. An essential, sensual and sexy track courtesy of this formidable collaboration.

If classic 1970s Stevie Wonder is your bag then the superb Innervoices will thrill with the summery and warm ballad "Slow Jam Of The Year" which features a plethora of real instruments. Ah! How this is far better than something sampled or programmed. You just cannot beat it, can you? Funny I mention all that reminds me of the summer and the warm. From sunny Miami we have the VERY welcome return from 80s talent Dee Dee Wilde, supported by brother Vincent Broomfield on sax. "Do For You" has the air of "Love'll Do Anything" and as such it is a classy, classy track. According to the liner notes all the Broomfield / Wilde clan will be releasing sets in 2006. That is something I'm salivating over already!!!

Denise Tichenor returns with another qualitry track, this time a gospel ballad called "No Matter What The Weather May Be" which bodes well for her forthcoming album. Also worth checking out is the smooth remix of "Can't Go Back" by Peggi Blu. Incidentally Peggi is working on her new album as you read this, overseen again by husband Ted Perlman.

Not only does this CD act as a showcase and a welcome release for much hidden music, we get a great insight into what the near future will hold regarding some serious talents. Rest assured the likes of Andreas, Expansion and myself will certainly champion it, celebrate it and make sure that YOU know all about it. An excellent release.
- Barry Towler

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