Monday, 9 February 2009

Angela Johnson - A Woman's Touch

Angela has moved a long way from her roots with Cooley’s Hot Box, and with two successful and widely acclaimed albums under her belt in her own right as a solo artist, has now developed her strengths further with a welcome foray into production. Angela means business, and has approached her work with much strength and conviction. The array of talent she has accrued is stellar by anyone’s standards. Let’s face it, Maysa, Frank McComb, Claude McKnight, Marlon Saunders etc etc. This is an enviable feat in itself. Angela has shown a diversity of style on here, and has even delved into Afro-Cuban and Reggae styles. Surveying her dominion, Angela is assured to have a hit album on her hands. How can she fail?

Fans of this Lady will be more than happy with the whole set, though, and there are four songs on here that really impressed me. The biggest surprise was Gordon Chambers’ inclusion, “Get Away”. Apart from the seriously heavy dub plates, I am no fan of reggae but this song really impressed me. Its strong soul, rhythm led and smattered with dreamy keyboards but heavily influenced by a scratchy, bouncy reggae guitar rhythm. I am so glad I didn’t do my usual trick and skip the track early on! This is a winner! Angela’s own “Should’ve Been There” is another real highlight. The outset vocals echoes Todd Rundgren’s excellent 1981 rock song, “Healer” but delivered by Deniece Williams! The track soon transforms into a lovely boogie-times influenced tapper with frantic hi-hat beats, crashing cymbals, quirky synth and warm Rhodes keyboard. Sublime midtempo soul.

I can also heartily recommend the wonderfully talented Claude McKnight who is very much at home on the Take-6 flavoured “Here I Stand”. I adore the unique sound of this group – they are captivating through and through and can do little wrong in my view! Britain’s own Soulful Julie Dexter also delivers the goods big time with the summery “How Sweet Life Is”. The horns are very Incognito, but the flavour is far more early 80s West Coast, and more delicious it is for it too. For these songs alone, the CD is essential. Here’s to a Woman’s Touch Vol. 2!

Barry Towler

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