Thursday, 19 February 2009

YaMama'Nym - Soularevolution

This album is an excellent soulful set infused with funky flavours, jazzy edges and a slinkiness which borders on the bohemian. A range of vocalists are used to great affect and the lead male vocal by KJ Dennis is so much like John Legend it has to be believed; if you, like me, love John Legend's voice but are not overly impressed with the sampled, hippity-hoppity stuff he is made to record, then this set is going to be right up your alley! My first choice of many is the gorgeously intricate and spaced out “He Makes Me”, the percussion, dreamy backings and tribal feel of the rolling, sexy rhythm is a perfect base from which the female vocals can stand tall; fans of Sandra St. Victor will appreciate this. The opening electric violin, strings and piano allow the superb John Legend-ish vocals to soar on the short yet sweet “Amazed”. If the arrangements and melodies of Donny Hathaway and Frank McComb are your bag then this will warm the jolly old cockles. Now, this song is different and begs your audience. Gentle, sophisticated and left of centre, “Amazed” should have that exact effect on you. “Baby Be Mine (Souled Out)” again is an absolute cracker, and if you loved John Legend's collaboration “Swing By My Way” with Will.I.Am then you will equally love this. Vocalist Tracy Thoms performs the acoustic foot-tapper, “Why” excellently. The laid-back Latin feel is not dissimilar from the material you'll find on the excellent “Soul Of Brazil” compilation a few years back. “Love Takes Over All” ups the pace slightly with a meatier backing, some honky-tonk piano and slap bass with a sassy vocal delivery a la Hill St. Soul style, and is followed by the cheeky yet surprisingly good “Good Love” which blatantly samples Mtume's “I'll Deliver (C.O.D.)” but against all misgivings works quite well. A similar type of pairing as Maxwell utilized with the SOS Band on “Ascension”. I like this, but prefer the originally neo-soul / jazz of “You Still Are” which features Wanya on vocals, and Stephanie Matthews and our old friend, Clarence Ward. Like that and you'll savour “Love You From A Distance” too. Superb. The slinky “A Chance To Love You” works very well too and has a '70s flair with the rhodes, strings and melody. “Not The Same” hits an excellent note in a very humorous way, and is very tongue-in-cheek fashion. A nice take on trying to move on from a love that has been lost. KJ really cuts the mustard with “All About You” complete with bluesy guitar and a heavy percussion which gives it a “wall of sound” feel, yet still hushed and comforting! Odd, but it works. Yamama'Nym have dished up a wonderfully eclectic and tasty serving of soul food...I for one want second helpings!

Barry Towler