Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Dreemtime, Dreamy

This album is definitely for those who prefer their soul to be beat-driven, uptempo and with a slight UK Soul vibe. Those who appreciate the Togetherness compilations, Reel People album and so on will be interested in Dreemtime. The fact that the highly talented and gorgeous Maza Azucena provides all vocals should also be a strong attraction. Maya certainly packs a strong punch when she sings. She is what I call a playful vocalist, quite sexy and yet controlled. Her inclusion here is definitely a strong plus, and as a whole the album does not fail to impress. The set runs smoothly and coherently, the vibe optimistic and always with a twist of funk and jazz. The opening “Rising Concerto” may be a synthesised string section, but is an interesting post-modern approach to a well-loved instrument and the effect is very pleasing when used in a scale. The main track, “Rising” bobs along at breakneck speed aided and abetted by funky wah-wah guitar and spacey keyboards. This is great! The loping and joyous “Soo Long” employs a similar post-modern piano line and synth line, something that buoys Maya’s ample talents. Smashing lyrics too, which always helps. “Dreamy” is much more mellow, spaced out and is warm and comfortable a setting for a smoother vocal approach from Maya. My favourite of all is the SUPERB radio version of “Don’t Change”. This is an instant classic. The trumpet riff echoes Herb Alpert and wheedles its way into the jolly old grey matter. The keys are very early 80s too, and all in all, this is a song that makes you think, “Yes, they DO still make music like they used to!” The sexiness of “Slide Here Next To Me” cannot be understated; Maya’s vocals are very passionate, deep and in places strike me as raw and open. The dirty ricocheting percussion, ethereal synth and goose-bump making piano which lazily does its own thing in the background culminate in a drop-dead gorgeous song, topped with a wonderfully jazzy trumpet solo a la Johnny Britt or Herb Alpert. In contrast, “Baby So Fine” is defined by juxtaposing a stripped down, low-key groove with a jazzier, freestyle kind of performance that we would more associate with the likes of Ledisi or Jill Scott. Again, the right type and amount of interwoven piano and synth works wonders. 2008 is turning out to be a very worthwhile year, and also a very expensive one! Well worth a purchase, and comes recommended.

Barry Towler

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