Thursday, 12 February 2009

Soul Folk Featuring Will Hammond Jr - To Be Continued

How to describe this? Hmm. Probably my best set is to say that its contemporary, bang on C21 but without being crass mainstream R&B. Stylistically it is bold, of that I have no doubt. The beats in places are very hip-hop and urban but almost rootsy too. The songs are firmly rooted in the soil of Neo-Soul, and have an awareness of where music has been, and points towards where it is heading. The passion and starkness of Van Hunt, P.J. Morton and Seven can be felt, and the subtlety and soulfulness of the greats can also be found. The first handful of songs is rather mechanical and urban yet has more depth than you would expect. They’re engaging and different and the eerie – almost early 80s synth pop feel of – “Spaces And places” may not be everyone’s cup of tea – let alone the purists, but artistically there is a lot of interesting texture. This shows that these guys are not just out to tread the same old tired R&B path.
Saying that, I do admit a preference for the more traditional soulful numbers, and there are at least 4 songs on here which really impress me, and on the day I heard them for the first time it was warm and sunny – a perfect match for the tracks that I am about to highlight for you. “No Surprise” is just sublime, it really is. The opening birdsong and guitar, baseline and dreamy keys work extremely well together, and comparisons with Van Hunt have to be made. The song is lovely and positive, and is definitely one to savour on these lengthening days. Fans of jazzier vibes will appreciate “Jaded” very much I suspect. The crashing cymbals and contemplative piano and dreamy vibes are almost at loggerheads but are perfectly engulfing the vocals. This is melancholy set to music, a moment of daydream and half-realization with a healthy hint of contentedness. The most commercial radio cut has to be “Breakdown” which cleverly interpolates Stevie Wonder’s wonderful synth bridge from his classic “Superwoman”. This is handled with complete reverence and subtlety. No cack-handed Puff Diddley sampling work here! The chaps turn their talents to an acoustic Latin sound with “Your Love” which, again, is perfect for the warmer temperatures. Their cover of Stevie’s “Golden Lady” also nods towards a classic 70s sound. I suspect that Mr. Wonder’s unique style and approach is one that Soul Folk and Will Hammond can hook up with. My final choice is the excellent 80s-ish jam, “Goodbye” which is essential. I think that if you loved Cognac’s “Blast Off” as much as I did, then this will be for you! Superb. Please check these tracks out as I know you’ll be impressed.

Barry Towler