As a reviewer, I write more reviews than ever get printed in magazines. Here is a selection of five that didn’t make the cut.
CD Review – Ebony Evans: You Did It All
‘You did it all’, the latest release from singer/songwriter Ebony Evans follows the success of her debut release ‘Luv’s Fire’ It mixes her trademark vocal style with older genres, drawing on motown, funk, the music of Quincy Jones, and also bands such as Chic, and Earth, Wind and Fire, to bring a new sound.
It has a few floor filling songs, but also songs of more substance, such as ‘Silent Running’ which looks at relationships where the passion has gone, or ‘Away with you’ whilst album opener ‘Just because of me’ starts the album in a pleasing way. Her vocals, with their higher range reminiscent of singers such as Minnie Ripperton, and more modern performers such as Mariah Carey is well used, with none of the grandstanding displays of technique that do nothing for the songs. Although Evan’s vocals stylings are to the fore, a tight rhythm section, a well drilled string section and high quality production also help to add to an album that is well worth a listen.
CD Single – Find First Light – by Brotherly
Brotherly is the collaboration of singer Anna Stubbs and Robin Mullarkey, best known for his work as the bass player of Zero 7. Their work in studios and with a plethora of other musicians has given the duo a strong identity, taking sounds and styles from soul, hip-hop, and electronica, with sweeping synthesiser parts given the same importance as the vocals.
‘Find First Light’ is a song that fuses a lot of genres and sounds into a satisfying whole. Soulful vocals, a rhapsodic string part, synthesisers, and a strong percussion track make this a song with a strong potential.
The second track on the release is ‘Drinking the Water’ is a slightly less immediate track, but still has enough colour to reward repeated listening. The duo will be releasing full album later this year, and this taste has offered a lot of promise for the duo.
CD Review –George Benson – The Classic Love Songs
It is a busy time for the renowned singer and guitarist George Benson. His newest album, Songs and Stories was released late last year to good reviews, while this year sees the release of a new anthology of his classic songs and a tour with Marti Pellow, of Wet Wet Wet fame.
The Classic Love songs features many of Benson’s best known songs in a pleasing, but not necessarily chronological order. All of the classics are on the album, such as opening tracks ‘Give me the Night’ and ‘Love X Love’ all showcasing Benson’s talent as one of the leading jazz/soul singers of his generation, whilst a lot of tracks also feature the Wes Montgomery/Grant Green styled playing that made his sound a staple of the smooth Jazz scene. ‘Breezin’ still sounds fresh, with its light melodic guitar motif and exemplary support cast.
This is not the first collection of Benson’s Ouvrere, and it won’t be his last, but for anyone who likes their singing soulful, and their guitar playing slick, this should be in your collection.
CD Review – My World by Justin Bieber
The music of youth should be about rebellion, about offending the older generation, and sticking it to the man, so why is the debut album from the fifteen year old Justin Bieber so polite and inoffensive?
This is one of those albums made by committee, to fill a thin gap in an already over saturated market. Much is made of Bieber’s looks, also being blandly inoffensive, but that does not help the seven tracks on this effort. There is everything you would expect on a pop album, except for the key change to allow him to stand up, although there are no real ballads on this album.
The songs, such as ‘One time’ and ‘Favourite Girl’ use a safe mid tempo Hip Hop beat, and autotuned vocals in the backing vocals, while instruments are stroked rather than being played. ‘Down to Earth’ uses that minor to major chord piano sequence so beloved of the writers of glossy american teenage dramas,whilst ‘Bigger’ almost uses a rap in the vocal delivery. On the positive side, the album is well produced, and Bieber has a melodic voice that might be allowed to soar if used properly on subsequent albums.
CD Review – Lemar – The Hits
Eight years, and four albums after he first came to attention on the BBC’s ‘Fame Academy’ Lemar Obika has released his first greatest hits album.
It is easy to dismiss stars who appear on Talent shows, but in this case, it is a mistake. Instead of tabloid fame, and scandal Lemar has used his soulful vocals and clear songwriting ability to build a successful and acclaimed career. There are hits from his early days, such as ‘Dance (with U)’ and ‘50/50’ as well as material from later on, such as the collections closer ‘What about Love?’ which features current talent show favourites JLS.
His vocals owe something to singers such as Al Green, and Otis Redding, particularly in songs such as ‘If there’s any Justice’ or ‘It’s not that easy’. There are three new songs as well, with Counting The Days,’ ‘You Don’t Love Me, and the collaboration with JLS, which could feature in the charts at some point. As a live performer, and a winner of two Brit award and four Mobo awards this collection does not signal the end of a career, it is more of a reflection on the work of an artist who has escaped his roots and has a strong voice and identity of his own.