Monday, 9 February 2009

Cheri Maree - Pure Voice

This is a CD you will like. An independent effort it may be, but with all the class, and without the trappings of, the major labels. The sound quality, the levelling and the vocals are expertly laid down, and therein contains many elements, references and points of interest to make this a strong contender for a purchase. Vocally, Cheri Maree is her own woman but there are elements of some other, classy vocalists that we can cherry pick from her performance. I hear elements of Chaka Khan in the way she projects, spreads and elongates her voice, and behind this is a sassiness and sexiness that surely belongs to the likes of Meli'sa Morgan. Somewhere within this blend can be heard the more classical leanings of Carleen Anderson. This was, for me, a CD that did not require more than one listen in order to appreciate what Cheri had to offer. “Talk To Me” is a classy number; positively affirming and supportive of a partner who's life is not 100% going their way. As I say before, lyrics like these are worlds apart from the “I love you / you hurt me / I wanna sex you” tripe of the R&B youngsters. Cheri, like others recently highlighted, has been around the block and is empathetic enough to get underneath a feeling and tease out the emotional strands. Compelling stuff. The music, by the way, is great. The beautiful “Soft Places” is simply moreish. Its relaxed, subtle and plain unhurried beat rests atop a rumbling bassline and gently tinkled ivory. The squeaking acoustic guitar, the Rhodes keyboards and the summery floatiness belie the cold, damp October day on which I listen to it. This is more for an August day by the sea. The title track also holds a lot to be proud of. The use of real instruments such as the piano, guitar and bells along with the programmed beackbeat adds great texture, and the lyrics lift it higher into the slipstream. I would like to hear this song played on quality radio – which i am sure it will be on each first Saturday of the month on Solar! The sort of lazy vocoder style used by Herbie Hancock in the early 80s can be heard subtly in the exquisite “Be”. It has a funky undertone which marks it apart from the smoother cuts outlined earlier. This is, no less, an ode to individuality within a relationship. I have always argued that the strongest constructs are held up by more than one pillar. Cheri appreciate, celebrates and expounds the virtues of those who “be who they be, and do what they do”. It is this that is important, and she knows it. Gamble and Huff always said that there was a message in the music. Soul music has always been about this – and Cheri Maree carries that torch onwards and upwards as we head towards 2008. Way to go, Girl!

Barry Towler