Monday, 9 February 2009

Leonard Julien III - Reflections of Soul

If you love the quality independent releases that were around in the early-mid 1990s then this set may possibly appeal to you. The style is also not dissimilar to the latest Nicolas Bearde set. Vocally I hear a blend of artists within Leonard’s delivery. Mostly I hear Philip Ingram but there are elements, which I am sure belie some form of tribute, to the late, great David Ruffin. There are definitely parts that are styled on David, and this adds a raw edge to the smoother side of Leonard’s skills.

“Reflections Of Soul” is a traditional, good old-fashioned soul album. Its no-nonsense romantic approach and style is one that is less and less prevalent these days, so it’s almost refreshing to hear an album like this. Holistically, the album is competent and consistent and for me there are no standouts; the set is a nice listenable one from start to finish and definitely leaves you with a warm feeling. Leonard has a voice that you want to listen to. Some artists, songs etc can go by unnoticed, however much you love the singer or the song. Not the case here. I found myself listening more intently to the vocals, every high, every nuance and turn of phrase. I was particularly intent on “I Can’t Believe” which is a quality effort, complete with smooth female backing harmonies. I would like to hear this on the radio, and on here at the tail end of the song you will hear what I mean about my reference to David Ruffin.

I was also impressed with the cover version of Michael Henderson’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”. OK, no-one can beat Mr. Henderson but nor should we expect them to. This is champion, though, and another I’d like to hear sported on the likes of Solar Radio. The use of sax on “Just Because” is spot-on. This is Nicolas Bearde material, and I think that many readers will appreciate this song. Again, sax is used on the By All Means-like “This Time It’s real”. I could imagine the late Carl Anderson having done a great take on this. The synth, drums, keys and female vocals are second to none, and there’s a lot of variety and texture to Leonard’s delivery. This is an interesting, relaxed and perfectly chilled real soul album. Just pop it on and savour it.

Barry Towler

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