Monday, 9 February 2009

Lina - Morning Star

This lovely young Lady was discovered and highlighted by the wonderful Ex-Motown supreme, Steve McKeever, back in 2005 on his Hidden Beach imprint. Lina’s “Inner Beauty Movement” won a lot of praise in the Modern Soul circle at the time, and I am doubly sure that the same praise will be heaped on this, her follow-up album (as opposed to her 2005 compilation set.) As with the previous album, “Morning Star” aims at a more youthful market and tends to be firmly rooted in the edgier, urban soul tradition of late. I must say that this style often leaves me colder than a snowman’s naughty bits but Lina has a vocal style that transcends this ephemeral idiom, and her songwriting and delivery is more apparent to the serious listener than many others. For me this is a far more accessible and memorable album than her debut CD. I rate at least 5 songs as being worthwhile amongst the routine sampled urban street / Hip Hop material, and I suspect that those of you who are far less of a dinosaur than I will appreciate a few more to boot! Track 5 is where the tracks of interest really start. “Feel The Love” is aimed at the stepping market, and the clapping beat is not at all dissimilar from the brilliant “Step In The Name Of Love (Remix)” from R Kelly’s must-have “Chocolate Factory” album. This is, similarly, a bouncy, feel-good ditty and also comes with a rap from someone called Dre, and his smooth rap is not at all hard on the ear and not out of character with this groove. Usually I foam at the mouth when rap pops up, so rest assured this is not bad!
The brassy, funky “Between Us” hits us very much like the recent Kool & The Gang knock, “Steppin’ Into Love”. The funky keys, guitar licks and beefy bassline are perfect to Lina’s very sweet, smooth vocal. This is great stuff, as is the interesting and refreshing “Everyday” where vocally I hear echoes of Grenique or even Erykah Badu before her voice became too nasally and parodaic. Again, the horns blow, the shaky beat impresses and the synth in the background pulls everything together. The drunk, off-key guitar almost has Outkast’s “Prototype” feel to it. The traditional sassy soul of “Get It Right” harks back to Shirley Brown or even Millie Jackson, but the vocals are smoother, and definitely a LOT sexier! Another classic feel is achieved in the ‘live’ sounding “Change”, resplendent with Southern guitar and piano, crowd affects. Lina seriously sings on here with real sexiness and conviction. She is worth far more than the street songs that she dabbles with. It is as an adult, not a child that real R&B succeeds and Lina is more than proof of the pudding.

Barry Towler

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