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4 Floors Up
  4 Floors Up  
  Recommended if you like:
- George Duke
- Brotha Deep
 
Review
Balam '4 Floors Up' [Balam]
 

All songs are written, produced, recorded and arranged by balam (Fred White) with the exception of contributions from the musicians individually mentioned below. Balam was involved on the Grammy nominated album ‘ART’ in 2001 and is becoming known not only for his music but for his keen eye with the camera, encompassing his travels/experience on the road as well as from his roots; providing photography for the album (with the exception of front cover by Sophie Killingray). Funky “Morass” starts your journey with Greg Grainger on drums, Miles Gilderdale & Julian Crampton on guitar and Keila White providing the vocals; a great opener with balam wanting to sit down and be free but being confused at his feelings not being reciprocal and using the music to play out his frustrations. I love the simplicity and finger-tapping calm of “T For Two” with Dianne Grainger providing the drums this time. “Will You Walk Away” introduces Suzanna Dee on vocals and floats you away with the ebb and flow of the track. Continuing the journey with the beautiful “Trip To Nowhere” and pleasing guitar work of Miles Gilderdale accompanying balam’s expertise on keyboard. “One Time For Your Mind” sees Cassandra D. Bates on French horn & Eddie M on Sax. “Twisted Aberration” is all balam’s creation with contributions from Julian Crampton on Bass. It’s an electronic track, sending the mind in trance-like directions, feeling almost like a playing a game, on a mission (testing the norm) but it works well and eloquently flows. “Hobble” settles you back down with Sam Hobbs now on drums giving you time to relax with an almost classical feel after the last track with one of my favourites on the album - deep, moving, soulful and expressively spread. Bass filled, feel good title track “4 Floors Up” makes you happy followed by “Moot “ with Brotha Deep on Percussion. I’m more than pleased as I hear the last musical contributory performance on the album from this fine artist. Moving along to the delightful “Corner Of 52nd” followed by another favourite of mine “You” with the sexy lyrics and vocals of Suzanna Dee. “Common People” has a nostalgic jazz feel with a contemporary edge. The CD ends with “My Momma Really Ain’t Got None!” This is a memorable, up-tempo final track, which keeps you listening right until the very end. You can feel balam’s enthusiasm, frustrations and happiness in putting his debut album together and it combines for an exciting listen for your ear, enjoyable from start to finish due to being well thought out and having selected good musicians to accompany the talent which is balam. Join us in balam’s travels and experiences. Catch the wave he makes on his innovative and creative journey. This is a CD for those who appreciate and feel the depth and creativity of music and how instruments can blend well together. Buy it now. I know you will enjoy.

Tracey Cope [Just Soul]

Because It Feels Right
  Because It Feels Right  
  Recommended if you like:
- Case
- Calvin Richardson
- Jimmy Vaughn
 
Review
Robbie Jenkins 'Because It Feels Right' [Overture Ent.]
 

“Because It Feels Right” the titled CD debut by Robbie Jenkins makes you feel good. His soulful, smooth and warm vocals conjure inspiring thoughts and will make you groove. Robbie is a Connecticut native and the CEO of Overture Entertainment, Inc., a multi-faceted entertainment company that administers his professional activities and provides a variety of music programs and services. After attending the University of Hartford/Hartt School of Music and Berklee College of Music, he interned with Grammy Award winning producer, Kashif. He has participated as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist in major world tours, fifteen national and foreign television appearances, major CD releases and music videos. He has orchestrated and performed an original work with the Washington Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. Robbie has spent the several years working on this latest offering. “Here comes an artist with a full range of musical talent to share with listeners that are constantly craving refreshing, new and simply said “good music”. Robbie makes a huge impression on this project”. As a review writer for “Justsoul.net” and a host of an online radio show, most important a music lover the debut release of “Because It Feels Right” is another example of the wonderful talent of independent artists from around the world. There are so many highlights to this CD that spans from a Caribbean groove to a romantic ballad. The CD starts out with a musically brilliant orchestrated lead into the vocals on “Just In Time”, leaving you with anticipation throughout the track. Robbie gets real and deep on “I Wanna Be With You” with a nice groove and truthful vocals from the heart. A Latin flair on “Handle With Care”. Sexy “Fingerprints” with a nice dance groove with a Caribbean beat that will put you in the mood. “The Next Phrase” showcases Robbie’s smooth and sensual vocals that will take things to the next phrase and the remix puts some cool hip hop into it breaking it down. “Undivided Love” is a nice up tempo club jam with love and spirituality. Funky is “You Got Me”. As for the ballads “Because It Feels Right” speaks to the power of love and a testimony, “I’m The One” is confident, honest and, heart felt. Saving the best for last “Wherever You Go” is thee highlight of the CD musically inspired with the awesome vocals and beautiful lyrics. This is a must have for your collection. “In a nutshell Robbie Jenkins “Because It Feels Right” effort is one to be musically enjoyed, appreciated and heard” The CD is available on iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster and Amazon.com. Robbie thanks for the music.

Barbara Fulton [Just Soul]

Soul Unsigned v1
  Soul Unsigned v.1  
  Recommended if you like:
- Jamiroquai
- Methodology
- Roy Ayers
 
Review
Various Artists 'Soul Unsigned v.1' [Soul Unsigned Records]
 

This 14 track album is the first for Soul Unsigned Records, and is basically a collection of talented artists not on major record label. If you ever listen to Solar Radio on the internet or digital radio listen out for a DJ called Phil Driver; this label is his baby. I am not expecting to see any of these artists within the next couple of months on MTV, BET or any of the other music channels that pump out music that sounds so similar or videos that not much else but booty. This is serious music for serious music heads, which you will appreciate if you give them a chance.
"New York Feeling" by Al Campos instantly became one of my favorite tracks within the first 30 seconds. You can literally smell New York as Al sings about showing his lady around New York. It invoked visions of sexy dates in Manhattan late on a summer night, when you skip the taxi and walk everywhere. Although Al is a native Californian he definitely had me longing for a trip to New York. "Gently" by Groove’s Back Productions featuring AmariM is a gentle funk song about how captivated the singer is by the love of her lover. Whilst "Sisco" by Dreemtime is a 6 minute funk/disco/party track to play in your car or sway to in a bar over a delicious cocktail. Make sure you listen closely to the vocal talents of Maya Azucena on this. "Don’t Waste Your Time" by the international group Mothergroove is another stand out track on this, with sultry vocals reminiscent of Sade on the chorus. You can hear every instrument, and each one plays their part in making this an interesting track. "What The Rhythm’s 4" is performed by a sadly now defunct UK based group called Kaldera, which reminds us of the fact that one of the powers of music is to help you shake your blues and uplift you. "Womanizer" by Majahba was definitely a surprise, I would never have thought such smoky vocals, and soulful tunes could come out of Poland. There is was thinking theu could only produce Europop and techno; well how wrong was I? Other tracks you must check out include "Intrafusion" by Moses Mayes, "Love ESC" by Yohimbe, Closer by The Black Style Mood and "Inner Sun" by Kan Sano.
If you like acid jazz from the 90s, funk from the 70s, live instrumentation, and artists like Jamiroquai, James Taylor Quartet, Stevie Wonder and Methodology then you will love this album. There are no big name producers or clever scratches or raps, this is album is all about funk and soul. I know in Europe there is a market for this music, and I believe that elsewhere with people getting tired of hearing the same thing on the radio that they will appreciate an album like this. Artists on this album hail from diverse places as UK, Spain, Poland, USA and Japan to name a few, and each bring something interesting to the table with their music. Like Phil Driver take a risk with some unsigned talent, and appreciate some of the quality music that is out there.

Richard "Ricardito" Ashie [Just Soul]

Timeless
  Timeless  
  Recommended if you like:
- Maxwell
- Carl Thomas
- Joe
 
Review
Kenny Lattimore 'Timeless' [Verve]
 

It appears that the second half of 2008 is for the ladies. Recent Maxwell concerts have got North American ladies all hot and excited, and slotting in whilst they Maxwell’s album is the soulful Mr Kenny Lattimore. Currently signed to Verve records, Lattimore’s new album "Timeless" is a beautiful collection of covers of older and newer artists. We know he has the voice, he has the looks, he has the hot wife and beautiful kids, but does this album cut it? In a word ‘kinda’.
The album opens with "Something" by Al Green, which is delivered over a nice mid tempo beat, which leads nicely into Jeff Buckley’s "Everybody Here Wants You". I like what he does with the track; there is a little roughness to the instruments which compliment Kenny’s tone. "You Are My Starship" strangely has a bass line similarly to Freddie McGregor’s "Natural Collie", but besides that the song is ok, and the album could be argued to start moving towards “blah”. However the album picks up again on track 5 "Come Down in Time" originally by Elton John. Lattimore stamps his mark on this song with beautiful vocals and moving string arrangements,. If there is one track that may remind people why they love Lattimore I believe that this is it, a truly amazing track.
So overall does the album work? In a word ‘kinda’. Where Lattimore is good, he truly shines, on tracks like The Beatles And "I Love Her", the previously mentioned "Come Down In Time", Stevie Wonder’s "It Ain’t No Use", Terence Trent D’Arby’s "Undeniably" and Donny Hathaway’s "Giving Up". There is great instrumentation, gentle emotion in the voice, and the whole package fits together. On other tracks however Lattimore is just OK, and sometimes he is lacking like on Aretha Franklin’s "Ain’t No Way", Marvin Gaye’s "That’s The Way Love Is", and Otis Reading’s :I Love You More Than Words Can Say". There is not enough soul, grit, life drama, emotion or whatever you want to call it to carry such big songs.
Like I said this album will work nicely for ladies waiting for the return of Maxwell, D’Angelo or Joe. Which in some ways is a shame as the ladies should have been longing and waiting for someone like Lattimore, who has enough talent to stand alongside the others. Guys I can testify that it will definitely set the mood right for a night of romance. So there is no excuse, everyone grab a copy and relax to one of the true gentlemen of modern soul. I won’t call this a timeless album, but is good? Kinda.

Richard "Ricardito" Ashie [Just Soul]

Testify
  Testify  
  Recommended if you like:
- The Greg Mayo Band
- Sly Stone
- Curtis Mayfield
 
Review
Harambé 'Testify' [Hornall Brothers]
 

Harambé’s sophomore album is produced by Karl Clews for Harambé Productions, White Elephant Recordings. Harambé are Miltiadis Mavrakakis on keys, Tony Pereyra on guitar, Timur Djahit on drums, Karl Clews on bass with the vocals of Andre St Claire Dyer. I interviewing the five-piece London soul band in June 2007, so I’m pleased to review their latest album “Testify,” a follow up to their debut album “Roots” (2003). During our interview last year, Karl Klews told me he had just been blessed with a baby daughter whilst writing and recording this particular album - hence the socio-political feel it has (like those classic 70’s soul albums from Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield). This is a CD with an Old School Soul funk vibe, with production update. Kick starting the CD is track 1 “In The Bone” with a warning of addiction, followed by “Demons” which takes on world leaders. “After The Rain” is next with catchy backing vocals enjoying the funk of Karl’s bass guitar and Tony’s lead guitar. “Speed Of Light” tells of the over-reliance on technology and the apathy that comes with it. Funky “River Of Your Indecision” follows asking ‘what do you want from me?’ Track 6 “Eye To Eye” has an 80’s feel, then on to “For Once In My Life” which is about losing reality and attempts to get in to the mind of a terrorist. Seductive, sexy and mellow “Miss You” finds Andre struggling to put his feelings in to words. “All This Wasted Beauty” is next with it’s spasmodic rhythm line, then “Swim Any Sea” (I’ll be there when you need me) with the feel of this track reminding me of the UK artist Seal. “Testify” kicks in making you want to dance, but follows with a serious message, a heartfelt call to arms, urging the listener to stand up and be counted. “Peacenluv” ends the CD in a positive way and I notice the beautiful backing vocals of London gospel singer Adelaide Mackenzie along with Dana Immanuel and Joseph Yianna complimenting Andre’s vocals. An album of deep jazz with smooth and seductive vocals from Andre, delivered with funky chords which are full of energy and infectiously loose rhythms; a CD with music in abundance to satisfy your insatiable music appetite. If you enjoy your danceable funk and bass this is an album for you.

Tracey Cope [Just Soul]

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