Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Jimmy Abney - Return To Forever - 2008 - Yoruba Records

Now this is the dog's dangly bits (thanks for bringing this album to our attention Mr Toby Walker!)! Yoruba Soul are usually tip-top on the old mix with the likes of Reel People etc, but this gentleman is here in all his own right as an artists and hits us hard with a sexy, soulful and moog-based set of classic 70s soul flavours with vocal skills akin to Marvin Gaye and harmonies that would have Boyz II Men or even Level 42 standing to applause. I cannot stop playing this album. The man is a genuine talent and all respect to Osunlade for discovering this soulful gentleman. Every single track is a winner. There's no fills, nothing half-baked or trendy on here. This is NOT a set for those who like the flavour of the month or what's fashionable on the London scene this afternoon. It's classic soul music but with a very new feel. Imagine 21st century technology being handed to Marvin Gaye in 1973. Yes, now you get the idea. I knew I was in the presence of greatness within moments of the opening song, “More Of You”. The synth / strings and haunting melody proves a great pairing for the baritone backing vocals. This is post-modern retro soul at its very highest. I call this an insatiable groove, and I suspect given a wider exposure a number of non-soul listeners could hitch to this kind of groove quite easily, so wide is its appeal.

The seductive and melancholic “More Of You” owes a lot to the more soulful output of Boyz II Men – think “50 Candles”, “Water Runs Dry” or “Doin' Just Fine” and there you have it. Superb! “What's On Your Mind” is equally essential and Marvinesque. “Is There Anybody Here” is a funkier recording but still warm with a seventies-ness that wraps you up in warm cotton wool. I hear the vocal harmonies of Level 42, Mike Lindup especially, in the folds of “You Bring Me Joy” - a track that really hits me in all the right places! “Open Your Heart” has elements of Tony Rich and as such are excellent. I mentioned Marvin earlier – and his song “Come Go With Me” is a rework of “I Want You” and vocally AND musically Jimmy steps up to the mark and does a fantastic job within a super-modern, bass heavy and shimmery freaky 2008 style. The great man himself would definitely approve. Also, check out “Hello” which has a Dwele flavour to it, and the able cover of Heatwave's “Star Of The Story” which is another nice version in a more Dwele vein than other recent versions. This is a cracking version and has enough percussion and keys to make it stand out from the crowd. If you are a fan of the superb XantonĂ© Blacq then you will not feel out of place in the company of the superb duet, “Guardian Angel” with it's jaunty disposition and jazzy flairs a la Take 6. The final song is a real curtain-closer. Soulful, jazzy and totally without fault. “Let Yourself Go” is amazing and again reminds me of Take 6 meeting Marvin Gaye. This gentleman is so talented and I really feel that this gentleman has a lot more to offer. I love this album, and I think you will too. One of THE albums of the moment without question.

Barry Towler