Friday, 11 June 2010

Leonie Parker - Soul & Heal - 2010 - Digimix

Fresh, 'blue-eyed' soul from the vivacious Leonie Parker! What instantly struck me about this album is Leonie's impressive vocals, as well as the more than soulful and perfectly pitched musical backdrop. Her style, her delivery and swagger encompasses many elements of classic, traditional singers as well as some notable new ones. I hear the phrasing of Gwen McCrae, the emotional depth of Joss Stone and the smoothness of JC Bentley. Musically we have a contemporary mode with a stylish and superior UK flavour throughout. Drawing upon classier US sounds and choice UK dancefloor echoes, this is a set to appeal to a wide spectrum of listeners. I know that many will instantly be attracted to the brassy "Fool For Your Lovin'" - this bounciness and hook-driven song should not be out of place at a Togetherness event and devotees of Terry Jones' superb musical taste would equally plumb for this - one I could imagine hearing at the hallowed Norfolk Village. The opening song with it's piano, summery pace and George Benson styled guitar portrays a singer comfy with a warm, southern / modern soul style and unafraid to be smooth...yet allowing a rough edge to reveal itself...this is the mastery of Gwen McCrae and the smoothness of JC Bentley.

"Even If Your Love Is Hot" is a line in the sand effort that harks back to the confrontational songs of Southern divas such as Shirley Brown and Millie Jackson. Leonie Parker is not a woman to be mucked around with, and acknowledging the highs she is more aware of the worrying lows of a relationship and songs like this are important as messages to the players and users out there who treat women with little or no respect. There is a remix here of "Silly Love Games" which has a great uptempo Lisa Stansfield feel to it, especially where her vocals glide effortlessly. the muted trumpet - almost Donald Byrd style - is a brilliant addition. As far as I am concerned the gorgeously executed ballad "Come On Home" is a real must. Not only does Leonie sound sexy and adorable but the musical backdrop reminds me of an early 90s Intimate Productions track - think The Affair or Chris Ballin. For me this makes the Cd an essential release. Fans of the recent "This Is Northern Soul" compilations should take interest in "My Love Is Gonna Get You" which contains some flavour of the wonderful 60s sound. The final cut, "All The People, All The Time" is a real monster and as far as socially conscious records go one of the most 'heart-on-sleeve' recordings you will hear. What I like about this as opposed to many recorded in these desperate times is that Leonie and writer Geoff Waddington acknowledge that change comes from within and not without. It's also a top tune for the dancers too, and that's a bonus! catchy, hook-driven and a sure-fire quality radio hit. A fresh new talent and one to keep an eye out for!

Available now - iTunes

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe