Monday, 2 February 2009

Maysa - Feel The Fire - Shanachie Records

The Shanachie label used to be known for its classy smooth jazz albums, but over the last twelve months they’re turned their attention to producing collections of cover versions from some fine soul artists like Glenn Jones, Silk, Mikki Howard and of course Maysa Leak. Last year the velvet-voiced Maysa offered us ‘Sweet Classic Soul’ and its success prompted the Shanachie people to tempt Ms. Leak back into the studio to work on this new 10 tracker. Working again with producer Chris “Big Dog” Davis, the formula is much the same. Again they’ve chosen a selection of mainly classic quite storm songs like the Commodores’ ‘Zoom’, Sam Dees’ ‘Send For Me’ and Peabo Bryson’s ‘Feel The Fire’ which gives the LP its title. The most up-tempo the collection gets is on a version of the Emotions’ ‘I Don’t Want To Lose Your Love’ – but its stately, never frantic. Generally, Davis and Leak never stray too far away from the original recordings. The chief exception is the jazzy opener, ‘I Can’t Help It’ (the Stevie Wonder song from Michael Jackson’s ‘Off The Wall’ LP). Here the ex-Incognito vocalist re-enforces what soul people know about her abilities. On the debit side now - though Maysa performs well on the Norman Connors/ Michael Henderson song ‘You Are My Starship’ the sax solo takes it right into the middle of the road and from a personal point of view I could have done without a another version of Bill Wither’s ‘ Ain’t No Sunshine’, though Maysa’s vocal almost convinces me that it’s a decent song.

Bill Buckley

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