Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Fil Straughan - My Music Part 1

Always a sucker for anything that takes me back to the 1980s, Fil is onto a winner here with his first two songs! Sounding quite like Wil Wheaton, and paired up with a Woody Cunningham / Kleeer / Eumir Deodato 80s sound, as well as a low-key acoustic Spartan mix at times, Fil Straughan has issued Part One of his “My Music” project. In fact, “My Music” is one of my tracks of the moment – but more on that later! This CD follows a long line of artists from around the world who are turning their back on the dreadful current US “R&B” sound and are looking back to a better, more expressive and tuneful age. Some of the guitar accompaniments on here and synths are straight out of Hiroshima's mindset, and Fil has an ability to cut a dash like Luther Vandross as well when the elongates and accentuates his vocals – check out “Vulnerable” to this effect. For the aforementioned 80s groove check “Keep On Loving Me” and “Favourite Destination”. The tender ballad, “Hold Me” features some nice guitar work and buffers the uptempo material nicely. This has an independent sound from the early 90s, but does not suffer for it. For me, the following track, “Life”, wins out over this; the live feel and acoustic guitar sound like something from the latest Rick James CD, and vocally we're not a million miles away either. “Sorry” is far more acoustic and Spartan and vocally much more in the Luther Wheaton bag. To be honest, I can take or leave this, and prefer the rhodes-like “Mad Atcha” with the female backing vocals and piano backing. Programming and a meatier bassline is the order of the day on “Where I Live”and is easily the more contemporary of all the tunes here. “Love Yourself”, later in the CD, is more inspirational and the old church organ gets dusted off to add some extra atmosphere. His vocals are excellent on here, and he almost bellows out like Barrington Scott Henderson in places. Showcasing his ability to flip a groove around, we get more uptempo and a tad garage-like on the SUPERB “My Music”, his Luther-like vocals really work well on this groove created by the artist FEET; the funky guitar and the punchy horn riffs also do the business. There are some great vibes on here too amongst the hi-hat which ticks away nicely. SUPERB! “My Music” really works for me, and like the other uptempo tunes on offer here, really do rule the roost. I LOVE this song and will have this banging in my car on a regular basis! As I said from the offset, this is one of my tracks of the moment. So, plenty of highlights on here and for my money's worth, complete worth it for the dancers!

Barry Towler