Monday, 15 February 2010

Maiko Watson - Sweet Vibration - 2010

I was immediately struck by the immense beauty of this Lady, and hoped this would transfer over to my interest in what's far more important. The music! Have no fears - the Lady is definitely gifted in this arena too, and her colours are well and truly nailed to the mast with the first full song, "Some Kinda Love" - a late 70s boogie affair complete with real instrumentation and a sassy, bluesy approach to her vocals. This is a very strong song and the track is one of those that makes you sit back, close your eyes and smile. A whole generation of new artists are standing up, taking a stand and returning to the GROOVE. Maiko isn't a one trip pony though. This is a varied set, and having been part of the girl group, Sugar Jones, on Canada's 2001 talent show, "Popstars", as well has soaking up the soulfulness of her then husband, Motown's Remy Shand, this should not be surprising! Cynics may say she's still trying to find her groove...I would tend to disagree with that. This Lady is setting up her stall...I should think that the truth is she is very able to meter out any number of styles very proficiently and as such there is something on here for everyone. Following a more modern, urban, composition called "Sweet Vibration", we have a rootsier and very Shae Fiol-ish organ-filled number called "Wise Up". This is a kinda groove that India.Arie would be good doing again. Very "Acoustic Soul" and excellent to boot.

I would like to highlight "Another Day" which is a great song in the mode of Sheree Brown's "'83" album - again, all real instruments and plenty of atmosphere. The violin solo adds a real edge to it and Maiko's vocals are definite, precise and full of promise. I could imagine the likes of Carleen Anderson doing a good version of this, though I much prefer this Lady's vocals I have to say. "Under Your Spell" is another highlight. Not the Phyllis Hyman song, but written by ow very own, very fair heroine herself. Vocally Maiko is smooth, rich, and extremely sexy. Many of today's female vocalists - especially the mainstream RnB ones - are insipid, indistinguishable and do nothing but whine. Not so this Lady. There is a tinge of Teena Marie...a faint wavering, a smooth yet dating approach that dares you to take a deeper and closer listen. This Lady could so easily turn towards a straight ahead jazz venture a la Schema Records, and could so easily bang out a few slam-dunkin' funk tunes too a la Sandra St. Victor! This, ladles and gentlespoons, is talent! Those of you who love the warm, cosy approach that Smokey Robinson undertook on his latest set will also like "Haunting Me" and the Remy Shand co-written "Ready To Be Loved" - I can imagine a very close-knit band, a wooden panelled studio...and a blizzard chasing away outside...all while the musicians jam to the passionate vocals. Very nice indeed. A very promising artist indeed.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe