Ensemble Dastan & Salar Aghili - The Endless OceanNetwork
Formed in Iran in 1991 by Hamid Motebassam this CD has lyrics from the poems of Attar, Rumi, Hafiz and Sayeh beautifully sung by Salar Aghili. This is classical Persian music that’s spiritual, sensitive and enveloping in it’s warmth and beauty. Superb.
Graham Radley, 02/08
Eoin Dillon - The Third TwinKila Records
Uileann piper from Kila ably assisted by Frank Tate (bouzouki) fiddler Steve Larkin and guitarist Des Cahalan. Most of the material is written by Eoin and he goes back to his roots for the source. Excellent playing with a gentle but driven approach to the music. Recommended.
Graham Radley, 09/08
Eric Lau - Makin SoundsKilawatt Music
After listening to Eric Lau’s latest release, “Makin Sounds”, I couldn’t help but think that somewhere there was a vocalist or a rapper who wishes their vocals were sprinkled over his trademark mid-tempo soulful grooves. Although the disc plays like a collection of snippets as only one tune, the mellow bouncy “Cruise Control” exceeds three minutes. However there is still much to savor amongst this twenty track disc. “Home Run” is armed with a rugged beat laced with samples of Buster Rhymes. “Dreamsville” is aptly titled with a laidback rhythm guitar providing a bluesy groove. “Noma” is a standout track that serves as the perfect canvas for Ben Hadwen’s colorful flute phrasing. This is an enjoyable release that will serve as a nice appetizer as we await the new projects this talented producer has in store for us.
Reg Dancy, 01/11
Eric Lau - New TerritoriesUbiquity Records
It’s been over a year since Eric Lau dropped his ep titled: “Eric Lau Presents Dudley Perkins and Friends”. Still, it seems like he came out of nowhere and instantly delivered some serious beats. The promise he showed on those tracks was evidence that a special talent had arrived. Finally our patience has been rewarded with “New Territories”, a gorgeous collection of soulful beats combined with lush vocals from some of the most exciting up and coming vocalists in the game today. One of those vocalists is Tawiah and she is featured on the track “I Don’t Do It To”. Tawiah’s vocals overlap with the dreamy keys and the head nodding beats. On “Time Will Tell”, Eric lays down a melancholy tantalizing soul gem topped off by Sarina Leah’s blissful vocals that springs hope for brighter tomorrows. Newcomer Tosin Tao’s voice may remind you of Donny Hathaway and the track “Don’t Let Them” is a funky soul burner that simmers with every beat. It’s clear that Eric Lau can make beats but he’s not satisfied with just that. The man is serious about making quality soul music with great vocals. I say mission accomplished.
Reg Dancy, 06/08
Eric Rico - Journey Back To MeLifeNotes Music
Eric Rico may not be a household name to many but with a voice as golden as his you are sure to love him. In addition, having worked with hip hop artists like “Planet Asia”, “Ladybug Mecca” and “Mystic”, he is equally skilled at producing and songwriting. Eric combines his distinctive voice with some progressive spacey beats to create an impressive debut. He touches on a variety of topics like the future of our youth on the stirring “Children Of The Night”. “Making Love” is a silky soulful slow jam that will draw comparisons to Frankie Beverly. “Too High”, the Stevie Wonder classic receives an overhaul to give it more of a hip hop feel. Eric has been in the game for a long time and it’s clear his time has finally come. “Journey Back To Me” is an impressive debut that will certainly thrust him into the company of emerging nusoul artists.
Reg Dancy, 06/08
Eric Roberson - Mr Nice GuyEric Roberson music
There are many male soul singers out there whose vocals can make your heart melt but few possess the lyrical ability and the vocal dexterity like Eric Roberson. “Mr Nice Guy’s” songwriting skills have served many artists well such as Jill Scott and Musiq, just to name a few and his latest release is filled with a few tracks to groove to but more so to romance to. For starters, the title track is a mid-tempo gem with a thick bassline that speaks to all the good guys out there who seem to wind up with all the wrong women. “Summertime Anthem” is exactly that, good vibe dance happy tune aided by hip-hop pioneer Chubb Rock. “Picture Perfect” is the highlight however, a warm and mellow tune that expresses the love in his heart for the lady in his life, with a little help from rapper/vocalist Phonte. “At The Same Time” is another winner, a melancholy groove with heartwarming chords. Overall Eric delivers a strong soul record filled with heartfelt lyrics that is cool enough for the fellas to rock and endearing to the ladies as well. This could very well be the record that grants him the recognition he truly deserves.
Reg Dancy, 10/11
Ernesto - A New BluesExceptional Records
As you may have gathered by the title, all of the ten tracks on Ernesto's latest album have a blues influence. Mixing blues and electronic music may not sound good on paper but this is tastefully and beautifully arranged. Personally I've been hammering 'another ten' which featured on the 7" single but ensure you check out the wonderful 'Father'. Maybe more producers should move to Birmingham because it's worked wonders for Ernesto.
Simon Harrison, 07/05
Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)Motown
After wetting our appetite with the brilliant single ‘Honey’ Erykah Badu’s much anticipated 4th studio album is finally here. Ms Badu’s music has always been innovative and on ‘New Amerykah’ she pushes the neo soul boundaries further with the help of The Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Madlib, 9th Wonder (Little Brother) and James Poyser on production duties. The set opens with ‘Amerykahn Promise’ which is essentially Erykah’s remix/replay of Ramp’s ‘The American Promise’ and ends with ‘Honey’, included here as a bonus track. In between we’re treated to killer tracks such as ‘Soldier’ and ‘Master Teacher’, two low slung bumpers, the Roy Ayers influenced ‘The Cell’, ‘Me’, a dreamy cut with subtle trumpet undercurrents from Roy Hargrove and the gorgeous ‘Telephone’. ‘New Amerykah Pt.2’ is due later this year!
Andy Allen, 03/08
Erykah Badu - New Amerykah: Part II (Return of the Ankh)Universal / Island
So much for the three album in one year project, at least that was the plan Erykah Badu had in mind when she released “New Amerykah Part I” back in 2008. That was an ambitious goal to say the least. Fortunately “New Amerykah” contained enough quality material to keep heads nodding for months so all is forgiven. Besides a quality album shouldn’t be rushed and Erykah’s latest release “New Amerykah: Part II return of the Ankh” is a much stronger effort and well worth the wait Where “New Amerykah Part I was more of a digital effort, “Part II: Return of the Ankh” features live instrumentation that provides a more sonic, soulful feel. As usual, the production features top notch performers like James Poyser and Questlove . They crafted the funky yet sublime “Window Seat”. “You can’t turn me away (Get Munny)” will sound familiar considering that Erykah flips the beat used by the hip-hop group Junior Mafia. Both versions benefit from the Roy Ayers produced Sylvia Striplin classic. The late great J Dilla co-produced the track “Love” another funky yet laidback joint. On “Out of my mind, just in time” Erykah croons to a ten minute track that starts out with a melodic jazzy piano riff and then morphs into an organic breezy gem that serves as a fitting ending to a very satisfying disc. If you’ve been riding with Erykah all these years then you’ll certainly be pleased. If you just hoped aboard for the first time you’ll no doubt enjoy it as well.
Reg Dancy, 07/10
Esma Redzepova - Gypsy CarpetNetwork
Return of the gypsy Queen with her first recording for 8 years and she does not disappoint. This remarkable woman who has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and who has adopted (with Stevo her late husband and the person who discovered her) 47 Roma orphans comes into her own on slower tracks like Javera Cumingan where she tells of the lament of an abandoned girl or the CD closer âTut ka Pajravanâ - âIâll get my own backâ . A true star.
Graham Radley, 07/07