Music Reviews

Show: New reviews | Artists beginning with: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9 | Compilations
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Best Of Friends / Jerline & Friends

Jerline & Friends - Best Of Friends

Streetsoul Records

Soul DJ Andy Davies kick starts his new Streetsoul label in fine style with this Chicago rarity which he discovered on acetate whilst working at John Anderson’s Soul Bowl record shop during the mid 90s. After airing ‘Joy Trip (Part 1)’ on his radio show the track caused a huge buzz amongst the soul fraternity and has eventually resulted in this release. ‘Joy Trip (Part 1)’ is a majestic string fueled two stepper of the highest order but the album packed full of quality tunes covering northern, crossover and funk styles plus a great version of The Lovelites’ ‘Get It Off My Conscience’.


Andy Allen, 05/07

Let Me Show You  / Jesse James

Jesse James - Let Me Show You

Soul Junction

I was first introduced to deep soul vocalist Jesse James in the early 90s when I bought a copy of the brilliant I’ve Been There Before (Gunsmoke) on 45 from Birmingham’s respected soul collector and radio DJ, Mickey Nold. Jesse James actually goes back way further though and has been recording since the late 60s. On Let Me Show You, the quality UK label, Soul Junction draws together a selection of ten rare and previously unreleased tracks recorded in the 70s. I Feel Your Love Changing is an anthemic modern soul swayer as is I Gave You Love With An A Plus. Also check out his version of the brilliant Just As Long As We’re In Love written by the legendary Terry Callier and Larry Wade and previously recorded by TC himself and The (mighty) Dells. Jesse gets funky on One And Only Love and I’m In Love With Loving You, neither of which would have sounded out of place on any of Willie Hutch’s 70s albums. I Got The Feeling and Let Me Show You are classy steppers but touch down anywhere on this set and you won’t be disappointed.


Andy Allen, 03/14

Almeria / Jessica Lauren

Jessica Lauren - Almeria


"Almeria", a province of Spain is scenic, sublime and a natural paradise not known to everyone. For pianist Jessica Lauren, it's a place filled with fond memories and a romantic charm. They serve as an ideal inspiration to this beautiful new release. Lauren's warm approach to harmony and rhythm are reflected in this blissful collection of modal compositions. "Kofi Nomad" is a simmering afro rhythmic tune augmented by Collocutor member Tamar Osborn's baritone sax phrasings. "Amalfi" is a brimming bossa nova treat that features trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, Osborn on flute with Lauren singing the melody. The closing "Argentina" is a stirring duet between Lauren and Osborn. Lauren's channels the subtlety of Horace Silver on this wonderful ballad. Simply put this is another winner from the premier pianist that shouldn't be missed.


Reg Dancy, 05/18

Four / Jessica Lauren

Jessica Lauren - Four


Pianist Jessica Lauren has built a diverse resume, having chaired with everyone from soul icons Jean Carne and Dexter Wansel, to present day visionaries like Emanative and Scrimshire . With “Jessica Lauren Four” she has blended elements of soul, gospel and Latin Jazz melodies into an impressive intimate engagement worthy of repeated listens. The disc kicks off with the hypnotic “White Mountain”, an ambient tune filled with deep grooves and lush rhythms that would fit comfortably either on the dance floor or in your dining room. Jessica glides into an assortment of Latin arrangements that showcase her superb use of time and space, effectively allowing her compositions to breathe and her musicians to shine. That’s apparent on “Mel Benson” where David “Booie” Gallagher and Paul Gunter’s rhythmic percussion wizardry erupt throughout the track. “Swamp Thing” is haunting, moody and simply gorgeous, thanks in part to bassist Andrew Kramer’s dark grooves. Legendary vocalist Jocelyn Brown appears on the disco flavored “Happiness Train” but it’s the gospel inspired “I Believe”, highlighted by Jessica’s shivering organ grinding that will awaken your spirit. “Jessica Lauren Four” is filled with compositions benefiting from her delicate approach that ultimately evolves into one enjoyable record.


Reg Dancy, 05/12

Grassroots - The Prologue / Jigmastas

Jigmastas - Grassroots - The Prologue


It is widely accepted that the golden age of Hip Hop took place throughout the 1990s. Among the diverse collection of MCs and groups were the dynamic MC/DJ Producer collaborations. Think Gangstarr, Pete Rock and CL Smooth. Another combo that made a lot of noise on the underground scene was the duo known as Jigmastas. Brooklyn based DJ Spinna and Kriminul made their share of hypnotic street music. With "Grassroots - The Prologue" we're re-introduced to the impressive catalog of beats and rhymes this dynamic duo put together. "Lyrical Fluctuation" is a gathering of some of hip hop most influential lyricists. Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Pharoah Monch, Mr Complex and Shabaam Sahdeeq all jump on the track while Krimnul drops potent verses as well "Thief's Theme" is another banger highlighted by Spinna's sampling of Nas "The World is Yours". You're certain to nod your head to "Beyond Real" filled with hypnotic spacey synths and thick beats . Throughout the disc Kriminul fluently displays the depths of his lyrical arsenal. Spinna, for his part chops up beats and arranges tracks with the best of them. If you yearn for some good ole boom bap hip hop then this is definitely the one for you.


Reg Dancy, 10/15

From The Vault / Jill Scott

Jill Scott - From The Vault

Hidden Beach

Whenever someone releases a collection of songs from their musical archive one has to wonder whether these are hidden gems or songs not worthy to see the light of day. In the case of Jill Scott’s “From The Vault”, these are definitely songs that merit your attention, not a small feat considering that she has recently “Light Of The Sun”. “From The Vault” features songs from her tenure at Hidden Beach and there are a bunch of quality recordings like “Wake up Baby”, s bluesy tune with tasty rhythm guitar and organ riffs. “Running Away” is another winner, a mid-tempo Rhodes inspired groover.   “Comes to Light” might be the strongest track here, a gentle ballad with a gorgeous melody. Overall this isn’t an album I would listen to from start to finish but there are four or five songs that are worthy of repeated listens. If you’re a die-hard Jill fan you may even add a few more.


Reg Dancy, 10/11

Light of the Sun / Jill Scott

Jill Scott - Light of the Sun

Warner Bros

By all accounts, “Light Of The Sun” feels like a breath of fresh air for Jill Scott and that is good news for us. After all this is her first record on her new label, Blues Babe (Warner Bros), and the opening track “Blessed” is evidence that she is in good spirits. Jill opens up with “Blessed” a smooth foot stomper with strings in which she gives thanks for the blessings of her family, particularly her newborn son.  “So In Love” featuring Anthony Hamilton is a lush feel good up-tempo tune with an infectious groove.  “Missing You” is a slow grinding ballad that is the kind of tune one plays repeatedly when they’re yearning for that special someone. “When I Wake Up” has a nice jazz fusion vibe and is warm and sublime. Overall “Light of the Sun” is a much stronger record than her previous release though not quite on the level of her first two albums. Then again, those two are classics by my definition. That said there is plenty here to keep you engaged. This is certainly a strong disc filled throughout with stellar production, heartfelt lyrical content and quality recordings to satisfy longtime fans and encourage newcomers.


Reg Dancy, 10/11

The Real Thing: Words And Sounds Vol. 3 / Jill Scott

Jill Scott - The Real Thing: Words And Sounds Vol. 3

Hidden Beach Recordings

There's no denying that Jill Scott is one of the most significant artists to have emerged in the past decade but since her classic debut 'Who Is Jill Scott?' she has never quite captured the same sense of magic. That's not to say her subsequent releases haven't featured some great moments, they have and 'The Real Thing' is no different. 'Let It Be' and 'Only You' are strong cuts on a funky mid-tempo tip but my personal favourites here are the rich down-tempo arrangements of 'Insomnia' and 'My Love'. Well worth investigating for these tracks alone.


Andy Allen, 12/07

4th Dimension / Jimi Tenor & Kabu Kabu

Jimi Tenor & Kabu Kabu - 4th Dimension

Shk Recordings

What’s great about Jimi Tenor is that he refuses to be tied down to any particular style of music. For over twenty years he has dabbled in experimental rock, rare funk and African rhythms. It does seem however that he has found a comfort zone exploring variations of Afro-funk. His previous release, “Joystone” was a wonderful blend of West African, jazz and latin rhythms. With “4th Dimension”, Jimi and Kabu Kabu continue where they left off and embark on a spirited journey that will keep your body moving long after the disc has finished. Standout tracks include “Mystery Spot” an energetic afro-beat inspired tune that sets the stage for what’s in store here. “Mogadishu Ave” is another powerful track full of blistering horns and searing guitars. “Floating Orange” is high octane funk mixed with spiritual jazz overtones. This track is intense and worthy of repeated listening. In fact, I assure you will find it difficult to bypass any track on this disc. If you thought “Joystone” was hot then wait until you hear “4th Dimension”. This is simply a fabulous record and another triumph for Jimi Tenor. I urge you not to miss it.


Reg Dancy, 02/09

Live In Berlin / Jimi Tenor and Rhythm Taxi

Jimi Tenor and Rhythm Taxi - Live In Berlin


As we wait in anticipation for Tenor's next album "Joystone" and it was a pleasure to finally hear the live experience. Recorded back in 2004 at Berlin's Club Maria this is truly something special but I'm a little unsure why it's taken so long for this to be released but it's here now and that's the main thing. You may well have heard about his onstage antics involving riding the white horse on stage or giving all the members of his band vintage champane, which adds to his persona and cult status in modern music. The press notes say that Tenor is a perfectionist and judging by these nine tracks all his hard work has definitely paid off. After listening to this live set only a few times, I really need to see Jimi Tenor live soon!


Simon Harrison, 04/07

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