Thursday, 19 February 2009

Jeff Cascaro - Soul Of A Singer

Jeff Cascaro may well be a brand new name to you but in his native Germany he is well known for his musical input on TV and his involvement with artists and his live performances with a host of artists including Joe Sample. Released in May 2006, “Soul Of A Singer” passed by unnoticed here in the UK which is a real shame as the album is a definite choice set for those who love their soul on the adult, jazzy side. Although born and raised in Bochum, Germany, Jeff has every right to be considered a soul singer as much as anyone hailing from the Mississippi Delta. The album is solid and without any fillers. For me the grooves are infectious and simply put – fantastic! The music is composed of real instrumentation, all performed live and which provides ample and sufficient backing for Jeff to lay down his wickedly soulful and expressive soulful vocals. I am reminded a little of Jamiroquai and the edge of, say, Anthony Hamilton – especially on tracks such as “Waiting”. Jeff's hero, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, is given pride of place with a dedicated song, “Holler” as the launching song. This is SUPERB. The punchy horns, funky keys and wah-wah guitar kick enough ass but Jeff's vocal homage to the great man is superb. I guarantee that within moments you will be sold on this album simply by this track alone! “I'm Talking To You Baby” takes the tempo down a notch, but the slinky jazziness does not fail to make an impression, and on here Jeff becomes more deeper, sensuous and almost delivers the song as another soulful gentleman – Robert Palmer – would have done. Curtis Mayfield's superb “Tripping Out” is given an excellent reading in Jeff's own style. I particularly like the dreamy, warm keyboards he uses here and the jaunty horns. I mentioned “Waiting” briefly – this is simply sublime. The low-key, stripped down tune is gorgeously metered by piano, muted trumpet and a tapping beat. The sheer beauty of the music and the lyrics are not to be overlooked. The equally wonderful “I'll Be Fine” has all the grace and charm of a classic Ohio Players ballad delivered by Jeff's ultra-soulful voice. Listen and soak up the brilliance! If Remy Shand's “The Way I Feel” or Kem's “Love Calls” is your bag them head straight to the excellent “Soul Of A Singer” which will do nowt but impress. We may be past the best of the season now, but “Summerlove” with its healthy romantic optimism brings some solace to these nights which are sadly drawing in. I'm especially in love with the superb “Do You Believe”...dreamy and more soulful than anything you'll hear the majors pump out these days. The gentle and Latin “Under The Same Sun” brings some extra warmth and jazziness, and a wistful vocal performance, shades of melancholy and regret present. The cover of Lionel Richie's “Love Will Find A Way” is competent but doesn't beat the original – but there again Jeff isn't trying to. It's a great choice of song and one of Lionel's best. I cannot praise or recommend this album enough...and with a new set in the offing it's time we all got more familiar with Mr. Jeff Cascaro.

Barry Towler

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