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Soul Express CD Review

The Sunburst Band: The Secret Life of Us


The Secret Life Of Us

Z Records CD 2012

In The Thick Of It (feat. Angela Johnson) / Why Wait For Tomorrow (feat Pete Simpson) / My Way (Feat. Diane Charlemagne) / Jazz The DMX / Easy Come, Easy Go / Where The Lights Meet The Music (feat. Darien) / The Secret Life Of Us (feat. Donna Gardier and Diane Charlemagne) / Caught In The Moment (feat. Pete Simpson) / Opus De Soul / Trust Me (feat. Vivienne McKone) / Educated Funk / Take It To The Top (feat Noelle Scaggs) / Taste The Groove / Definition Of Luv (feat Diane Charlemagne) / Love One Another

The Sunburst Band... Joey Negro (or Dave Lee as he is really known) are a phenomenon of nature; Powerful, full of musical majesty and beauty. Dave Lee not only creates stunning funky / soulful house and boogie tunes he can craft ultra soulful boogie tunes that take us back to a time when attention was paid to music, instrumentation, melody, rhythm, groove and SOUL! Today artists in the UK and Europe are turning their backs on today’s drivel and recreating as good - if not better – material as America did 30 years or so ago. Are we getting old? Burying ourselves in the sand? Luddites even? No. Dave knows this and says so much himself when he describes wanting to create music that he grew up with... with the groove. The Sunburst Band are very much a 21st Century outfit but still spliced from the DNA of the late 1970s / early 1980s soul and fusion sound.

No further explanations then for covering Brenda Russell’s timeless “In The Thick Of It”; a song that has already been extremely popular on quality radio. US soulstress Angela Johnson works wonders on this and the band support admirably in their own unique way with plenty of groove, David Bendeth type guitar and a drizzle of strings for sweetness. Talking of strings... if you love them as much as I do then you will be blown away with the cream or cream track “Why Wait For Tomorrow” featuring the ultra-soulful Pete Simpson on vocals. The strings are simply beautiful and the groove very much gets your face beaming, the body moving and not a hint of sampling, drum machines or auto-tuning. This is vintage new soul at its pinnacle... one of my tracks of 2012 without a doubt. My opinion if it counts for anything is that if this were the only solid track on here (and trust me it isn’t by a long chalk!!!) then the CD would be an essential purchase for this and this alone.

The sturdy groove “My Way” with Diane Charlemagne is deliciously groovy and fans of Paul Hardcastle /Jazz Masters will adore tracks such as “Jazz The DMX” and “Easy Come, Easy Go”. Gorgeous piano, DMX drum machine from the mid 80s and rhythm guitar are the order of the day... I love this and I am sure you will too. Its 1986 all over again!!!! The toothsome freaky 80s synths on “Easy Come, Easy Go” are straight from the Kleeer school of artistry and the Hardcastle kind of groove rich and fortified by solid female backing vocals. Superb. Now that’s a good word to describe vocalist Darien. The blinding 80s groover “When The Lights Meet The Music” satisfies on all points, leaving you wanting more of the same. Thankfully the Band give us just that with Donna Gardier – hotfoot from her latest Cool Million session – and Diane Charlemagne with the Chic styled mover “The Secret Life Of Us”. Nile Rodgers and the late, great Bernard Edwards would be very impressed!

“Caught In The Moment” is a song that impressed me... the melody is very much 1980 / 1981 and the strings and bassline deliciously addictive. Pete Simpson again on vocals is perfection personified. “Opus De Soul” is another corker, and the deliciously beautiful UK mega talent Vivienne McKone does dear old Blighty proud with the funky “Trust Me”. God, I love this CD!!!! Rihanna album anyone? No? Thought not. Try the loose yet retro “Educated Funk” for some REAL music. Noelle Scaggs is the vocalist on the dreamy mover “Take It To The Top” and her sexy vocals are perfect with the dreamy keys and Con Funk Shun type horns. Come on, folks, if you’re not already tempted by this CD I really think you’re on the wrong website!!!

The very 80s breaker beat sound “Taste The Groove” would not be out of place on a Bernard Wright album, and the same can be said for the energetic “Definition Of Luv” can see this spinning around on a 12” single... you really can! I defy you not to click your fingers to this... its 1984 all over again (thank God!!!!). Our final outing is the reflective and dreamy “Love One Another”...the atmosphere reminds me of Dexter Wansel somewhat... the flanging spacey keys remind me of the Life On Mars album... and so closes the latest magnificence which is The Sunburst Band’s latest effort. No arguments on this front from of 2012’s must-have albums.

Barry Towler

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