Thursday, 5 February 2009

Rhonda Thomas - Breathe New Life - Rhonvocals

Rhonda Thomas is an Atlanta-based soulstress and an alumnus of that city’s Tabernacle Gospel Choir, where she shared lead chores with the redoubtable Maysa Leak. Since then, like Maysa she’s worked with Incognito and been involved with Atlanta’s burgeoning nu-soul scene. She ‘s worked with Jiva, Khari Simmons and the Sirius B project an and still found time to go on the road with the late Luther Vandross and the charismatic Isaac Hayes. In between all that she recorded this album in 2004 but with a big underground buzz on it right now, it’s being re-promoted. It’s easy to hear why the buzzers have been buzzing. Though almost three years old ‘Breath New Life’ is right on the contemporary money. It pairs bright and optimistic cuts with some gorgeous introspective ballads – unified by their thoughtful and mature lyrical profiles and Rhonda’s big, expressive, church-reared voice. . Best of the “up” cuts is the lithe ‘Stand And Know’. Its almost soulful house, enhanced by sweet trombone (or is it trumpet?) infills. Biggest ballad is the duet with Alex Latimore that is ‘The Matrimony’. Cynics might say the lyrics are cloying, but old romantic that I am I say there’s nothing wrong with proper commitment and the song is a soulful expression of just that. In between there’s lots more to enjoy including the flute-led, Jiva-esque’ Fly Away’ and the jazzy title cut that will recall the best of Maysa Leak. For dancers there’s the steady ‘Givin’ My All’, while for those who like a little funk ‘the loose and bumpy ‘Friday Night’ might just satisfy.

Bill Buckley

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