Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Stayce Branché - The Evolution To Living In Truth - 2009 - Soulfare

My God! Do I love this album or what?! Stayce Branché has been a strong, strong artist for some time now and her ability to deliver quality ballads and dancefloor tunage is in no doubt. This album, though, really is the jewel in her most enviable crown. It is delicate, sexy, erotic, soulful, jazzy and eminently essential. I'll give you the lowdown on the approach Stayce has taken. Imagine Minnie Riperton, should she still be with us, making a quality soul album today...and throw in the aura of Sheree Brown and Patrice Rushen for effect. This is very much a quality 2009 album - real instruments and all - but with real late 1970s / early 1980s sensibilities. Albums like this are very rare these days and when we get presented with one as good as this I can do nowt but shout about it from the highest rooftops. Fans of Sheree Brown, and her recent "'83" CD in particular will get into the spoken word groove of the opening song, "Let The Music Play". Again, one can hear the likes of Zhané, N'Dambi or Floetry grappling this well. The sexiness of Minnie Riperton really comes to the fore with the AWESOME "Contact". Let's face it, Stayce is a beautiful Lady and her vocals here are truly sexy. This guy is very much sold hook, line and sinker!

Again, following this gem is a real killer in the form of "I Was Thinkin' Maybe" which is very much a '70s Riperton affair. With Craig T. Cooper on guitar and Cal Bennet on Tenor Sax, this is truly a succulent and toothsome delight. I kid you not, this CD is total, total quality and tracks like this warm the very bottom of my musical heart. "They Don't Know About Us" will not fail to impress, and the sublime Riperton-like outing "With You" complete with Sheree Brown type acoustic guitar will seriously have you clammering for more.
"Wrapped Up In Love"...delicious. That's an understatement. Real instruments, warm and cosy, this intimate, hushed sexy number is top-notch and reminds me of Syreeta collaborating with Leon Ware back on her "One To One" album. Superb. See? Told you this was a great album didn't I?! THE song for me has to be the emotion-drenched "Hard To Say Goodbye". This is jaw-dropping soul music at it's very best. Alex Al's bass work is superb, and the Rhodes courtesy of Brandon Coleman are second to none. Sexy, jazzy and totally essential. The piano line that ushers in "When Did You Know?" is worthy of Burt Bacharach, and allows Stayce to showcase her amazingly gorgeous vocals; almost like Susaye Green in places here. Wow. Talking of Bacharach, the superb Leslie Drayton steps in with his Flugelhorn and sprinkles extra magic on "Love Is All You Need". This is one hell of an essential CD - definitely, for my money's worth, one of THE albums of 2009. Almost Christmas and it usually quietens down now...not this year...the quality keeps coming. Keep reading as there is a LOT more to come!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe