Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Sophia Nelson - Woman In Love - 2008

2008 continues to deliver classy material, and again, the Americans do not dominate the music scene. If you loved recent sets by the likes of Liberty Silver, Me'Na, Swing Out Sister and even the Cuban flavours of Kuh Ledisma then you will opt, naturally, for the charms of Sophia Nelson who delivers “Woman In Love”, her second outing and her first set for 16 years! Ghanian by extraction and having had her musicianship finely tuned in Paris within a truly multicultural setting, Sophia deigns to deliver a classy, top-draw jazzy set which embraces a number of musical styles. The flavour of jazz, Latin American, Cuban and what is known as 'high-life' – a fusion of Caribbean Calypso and Afro-Cuban rhythms – make up this sizzling hot set. The positives here are legion, and I will have to start off with the wonderfully soulful gem, “Over”. This is a dream, and fans of Incognito or Liberty Silver and even Rena Scott will be seriously attracted to this. The horns and real instruments are really firing on all cylinders, and I have to say that although that is classy, I am more struck by the warm 70s Fusion feel expressed in the title track, “Woman In Love”. This is sheer class and is easily on par with Liberty Silver, Khani Cole or even Isabelle Antena. Pure class, and I think you will definitely agree.

“Calle Blanca Blues” is a beautifully crafted song which sensitively deals with child prostitution and poverty in the third world with warmness. It has rich instrumentation with an exquisite flute opening up for the Lady to scorch us with some poignant vocals with plenty of Latin kick to boot. If the style of the recent Satya Project was to your liking (also reviewed here on Soulchoonz) then the superb “Someone Special” will also appeal similarly. The cool vibes, horns and dreamy keys support a more straightforward jazz vocal approach. The rhythm guitar is excellent, too, and I wish we heard more like this these days. Again, the old Grover Washington tune, “Mystic Melody”, cannot be faulted and showcases the raw fusion of musical styles all held together with an irresistible percussion and warm synth. The song is a celebration and tribute to great music and great musicians. Mystic melody indeed! I think you'll also love the upbeat number, “Living Up To Dreams” which could also be a cut you would expect Khani Cole to produce. OK, there's a lot of classy material about at the moment but please do not allow this gen to disappear – stuff like this is timeless. Forget the hype surrounding a lot of other, ephemeral, artists. Sophia Nelson is the Real McCoy and this set deserves all the recognition and airplay it can get. An excellent, vibrant, fruity and heady mix of flavours. Savour the flavour.

Barry Towler