The mighty and endless fountain of creativity simply known as “J” released this CD in the summer of 2005. By now, I had more of an appreciation for the man and what he can do. J, of course, is one of the founding fathers as it were of Da Soul Records. I don’t think that there is any song on here that I don’t actually like. Some, though stick out more than others and these are mostly in the rump shaking department. My first bass-pin trembler was the great “The Look” which is vocally smooth and subtle yet backed with a seriously funky bass line, irresistibly catchy, that is not a million miles away from Zapp and their superb “Ja Ready To Rock” from Zapp IV in 1985. This sounds great pumped up in the car – luckily I live rurally so there’s no-one to disturb bar trees and deer! More fluid is the 808-drum sounding number “Tell Me Why” with its persistent hi hat, sumptuous keys and savoury slap-bass, and this also works nicely for me.
I really love the ballad, “November Rain”, but I fear the storm effects at the start really do not do the song the justice it deserves. I have found this the case on many songs from both independent and major labels. J proves that he has a seriously soulful vein and isn’t afraid to show it on the track which is still a real favourite, “Speak No Evil”. This is a glorious platter of soul and is possibly one of the best records that J and the label has put out, period. The light, tapping beat and the soulful vocals easily match anything that the majors can do and this is very welcome indeed. I hear more excellence in the downtempo funk of “Some Girls” and the solid percussive “Come Back” also gets the bass-pins trembling. Smokey’s “As Long As There Is L-O-V-E Love” is given a tasteful reading and matches anything on Chazz Dixon’s 2005 “Hitsville” CD. “Conversations” is a CD that I would recommend, and this is yet another CD Baby purchase. One wonders what lovers of quality soul would do without outlets like that these days. Please do not overlook.
The Vibe Scribe