Monday, 23 February 2009

Romina Johnson - Soul River

"Soul River" is this beautiful Lady's third album to date, and for me is her very best. I have not stopped playing this album, and it comes at a time where there are plenty of quality sets for you to enjoy so as we head into 2009 the quality does not diminish one iota. This Japanese release should have the justice of an expanded UK release – the album will be an immediate hit on the UK Soul scene and her compelling vocals – akin to Stephanie Mills at times – take no prisoners. The album is very Y2K in style yet it has it's footing well and truly in the 1980s heavy club scene. Think Swade, Bennson, Cool Million, Confection which kick some serious ass, and there you have “Soul River”. I was, I suppose, less that 30 seconds into “As Good As This” and the Y2K flava was compact, punchy and enough to have me won over without waver. What a clonking jam this cut is! The more retro “What Can I Do” is one of those quality today, but very yesterday, cuts and if pumped up in the right clubs should even get staggering idiots like me onto a dancefloor!
The guitar-driven “Dance With Me” has enough 80s flourishes to keep this old hack happy; the heavy dirty bass, dreamy keys and spacey synth is enough in itself but the Lady's sexy vocal skills definitely help no end! The unashamedly retro “Boogie” is straight out of the Paul Laurence / Kashif style of Club Classic, and is a worthwhile effort. If dreamy keys and a modern chunky flava is more your cup of Darjeeling then the beat-ballad “Got Me Trippin'” will get your thumbs up. Such a lovely groove I think you'll agree. “So Bad” is the sort of classy cut that you would expect this Lady to drop – a smouldering vocal, strings and heavily laden groove. Perfect. Talking of perfect, check the sturdy beat ballad “Hold On To You” - the keys are simply heaven trapped on CD! The simplicity of “Love Keeps On Running”, too, will not escape your attention. Gracious, elegant and delicate, this song will stand up to scrutiny in a few years time. I can also recommend the House Remix of “Boogie” courtesy of Wesley Johnson. This is exactly the sort of uptempo soulful dance material that we need more of these days. A thoroughly recommended CD.

Barry Towler