Thursday, 12 February 2009

Blak Ice - Next To You

This is an independent set which should appeal to those who like their soul on the traditional or “real” side. As far as indie sets go, this certainly does not have the big budget that many artists now have, but is nonetheless charming and would not have been out of place in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Think along the lines of Artwork, Audio etc. These artists are still very much in-demand and I cannot see why this set can’t achieve this too. Musically think along the lines of Ronnie McNeir, and vocally imagine a collision between Al Johnson and Gerald Alston. I was immediately impressed with the sheer gaiety of the opening, indeed title, track “Next To You”. Fans of good ol’ skool soul will love this, and this would not be out of place on one of those old About Time compilations. The feel is very soulful, and completely enchanting. OK, the synths and music are, mainly programmed but this is pulled off very well indeed. The following song “Please Don’t Go” certainly has more than a trace of Gerald Alston’s harmonic trait there, and the vocal delivery is second to none. Another very fine track which will not fail to impress. I particularly like the line in the song which is very memorable. The song tackles the consequence of infidelity head-on. He feels that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence, but soon discovered it was “a green light shining on brown grass”. What excellent and beautiful imagery here. On “2 Women” we see Blak Ice not learning his lesson, and singing about being in love with 2 women at the same time. Don’t worry, mate – they’ll both soon be nagging and it won’t be so heavenly! LOL. This is traditional Tyrone Davis / Marvin Sease territory and is executed with aplomb on here. The excellent stepper “Friday Nite” will also appeal – very much in the Al Johnson bag, and the organ and live drums do much to add weight to the song’s appeal. A very worthwhile and quality ballad is the excellent duet “Make Love To Me” which would easily fit in on a quality soul release of the early 90s. the arrangement is one that take me right back, and is one I wish was more readily available today. I would definitely buy this CD on the strength of this one song, so as far as I am concerned the aforementioned additional gems do nought but make this a serious contender for a purchase. One to check out.

Barry Towler

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