Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Brown Hill - Soul Renaissance - 2009 - Soul Planet

THIS IS SUPERB. Every now and again a new artist comes along, defying the suits and their marketing plans and blow apart the faddish RnB facade for what it really is. An exciting new talent that should get the juices flowing in the same fashion as Eric Benét, Anthony Hamilton, Calvin Richardson and even John Legend on a good day would. This is a truly soulful, if diverse set, heralding a very Y2K sound but is unafraid to publicly embrace what is good about black music heritage - take the excellent rap cut "Soul Renaissance" to exemplify this. Dropping rhymes atop "T Plays It Cool", fear not as the rappers state categorically that they are "gonna bring soul back". Listen to albums like this and you have to believe them. DJ Super Gary Spence (he is super - eating runny eggs for breakfast and NOT getting any down his shirt like I did!) has spun a number of tunes from here to much brouhaha and rightly so. "Ghetto Queen" is a superb stepper in the wonderful mould of PJ Morton, Eric Roberson and even Big Brooklyn Red. More on him later...

we return our gaze to the shaking mellow funk of "Will Ya Eva Know" - a serious Soulchoon if I ever heard it. Played loud this rumbler would get some serious butt moving! The synth-strings swirl, the ivories tinkle and the early 80s feel thanks to some dreamy Fender Rhodes are simply knockout. This sort of track is going to make 2009 a great year for soul music. When the world is crumbling around your ears focus on great, positive songs like this. This CD should sell bucketloads thanks to this alone! The Van Hunt-ish guitar swayer, "Baby Come Back", is another very strong effort with vocals very much in the Marvin Gaye vocal mode. This is superb, trust me. I mention Big Brooklyn Red earlier - and fans of his "Foreword" album will like the vocal styling of "Unspoken Rule". there is a mere hint of both Frank McComb here too and the clapping rhythm right up on a Y2K tip - think of Brian McKnight's latest knock-jams and you're not far wrong. Fans of an early 80s slap bass and funky keyboard will dig the meaty, incessant groove within "Love In A Twine" - well worth playing LOUD. The KILLER cut, you may ask? It's a ballad called "Not Looking For Somebody" featuring Leah McCrae. This is as sophisticated as adult RnB can get in 2009 and the clear head-and-shoulders winner on this album. There is, as yet, no release date for this CD...but watch this space because the second it's available you will read about it - on here. Keep 'em peeled. ESSENTIAL soul for 2009!

Barry Towler

The Vibe Scribe