Monday, 2 November 2009

Michael Olatjua - Speak - 2009 - Backdrop

Michael Olatjua is a new name to me, but is a very fresh musical talent out of good old London Town bringing together many names of the great and the good to offer us an album of sassy, jazzy and funky soul. I heartily recommend the opening track for some gorgeous acoustic madness featuring the talented Lynden David Hall in full flow, and this really is different and a step to the left. I so, so LOVE the follow-on song, "Alter Call", which is so soulful, jazzy and no-nonsense it hurts. Female vocalist Eska Mtungwazi adopts a N'Dambi approach and the music really is spot-on in a Llungau Big Band / Steve Harvey's Everyday People kind of fashion. You're gonna love it. You're also going to love the offbeat, rhodes-filled scorcher "Hold On" featuring Lynden David Hall and Mr. Andrew Roachford who sound absolutely wonderful on this...dischordant...abstract...yet totally infused and heady, addictive song. This track challenges my senses and I am totally besotted with it. How different and refreshing is this. So soulful it hurts! And clever to boot.

Urban star, Terri Walker, is not one I would ordinarily listen to but she really slam dunks this tune, and "Little Sister" therefore becomes a strong, strong effort indeed. Textured, layered and altogether intricate Michael Olatjua to me has one ear on one level of aural delight and works his other ear on a completely different yet symbiotic dimension. This is the stuff of genius, and that I do not say lightly. From this we have the gorgeous "Le Jardin" featuring Onaje Jefferson. Quite a jazzy tune and vocally somewhere between Frank McComb and Frankie Beverly, this track will make you MELT. This track is impossible NOT to love. Michael Olatjua's genious also shines through on the drop-dead gorgeos "Unconditional" - hints of Hill Street Soul, N'Dambi and Jazzhole, and a hint of Wes Montgomery / George Benson thrown in for good measure, this song is to die for. Fans of the nova bossa nova will definitely hit repeat on the KILLER traditional gospel song "Walk With Me". This is straight-ahead and then some! Michael, I thank you for such mesmeric, different and intelligent songs! An essential release courtesy of Backdrop Records, Germany.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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