Thursday, 19 February 2009

Darien - If These Walls Could Talk

Hailing from Mt. Vernon, New York, comes Darien whose sheer soulfulness that is more than apparent. If you like your soul music of the dance floor-friendly persuasion with a bit of clout, then I suggest you check out this man and his music. The beats are solid and meaty throughout and would prove very satisfying on any dance floor, and the backings are very much full of everything we enjoy such as live instrumentation, dreamy keys as well as strong vocals. The use of bluesy guitar, flue and other live instruments along with heavier percussion really adds a 'real' edge as well as giving the songs strong roots founded in real soul music and tradition – something that today's commercial R&B certainly does NOT do. Let's start with the excellent opening cut “I Just Can't Wait” with bluesy guitar and '70s Fender Rhodes keyboards. This is very much what we would expect from a quality Dwayne Wiggins or Raphael Saadiq production. The production is top-draw, I have to say, and shows that Darien has invested properly – and rightly so – for his talent. It's a set of which he can be justifiably proud.“Gone” is very much more a modern Hip Hop jam in the John Legend / Will.I.Am mode BUT uses a clever sample (which currently escapes me!) to give the jam some classic foundations. That aside, you will love this song. Darien proves he can turn his hand to anything with the following cut which opens up in a fantastic 70s jazzy flavour – think Lee Ritenour or Gino Vannelli and that's how “Composure” commences, soon delving into a classic mid tempo stepper's groove. Superb! Equally superb is the dance floor-friendly “Showya” - the heavy bass, rhythm guitar and dreamy vibes are the real deal! An essence of Stevie Wonder can be uncovered in the shuffling classic sound of “Sail Through” and is a real highlight of the album. “Love Revolution” with its keys and horns is very akin to the recent Tuomo album, and is a song fit for a summer's day. Darien offers much more than many artists today in that he has his feet firmly rooted in real music; he understands how to put a tune together and from there builds up with some bass, a garnish here or there as a nod to the streets, BUT is an all-encompassing artist and one who will have no problem in wowing audiences with this set.

Barry Towler