Sunday, 1 August 2010

Lenny Hamilton - Wayout: Portfolio Vol 1 - 2010 - Ltrain Studio

If the recent album from the late, great Jimmy Abney was your cup of tea then I think you will also want this CD as it's what I call a great "companion piece" album. It has soul and a haunting atmosphere and far removed from many of the mechanical and unfeeling sets that plague the market these days. All the worthwhile songs here and drenched in dreamy keys, relaxed and warm bass and wispish vocals that very much remind me of Jimmy Abney. There is also THAT haunting, ethereal and ever present synth in the background...this makes my skin chill and my spine tingle and I cannot get enough of this! For once, too, this amazing artist comes from the US and hails from Nashville - the home of other brilliant talents such as Tommy Sims and Tim Dillinger. More on our friend, Tim, later. I would like to start off with track two, "Sistah". NOT a rambling homeboy rant or urban homage this is the epitome of cold chill on a summer's day...though the dreaded crackles marr the beginning we soon lose these and the brilliance overtakes this and what also takes me aback are the slight but genius chord changes that are almost discordant in a very Burt Bacharach mode. Sheer brilliance!

The midtempo, flute-drizzled "Bring It Back" would not be out of place on N'Dambi's latest Stax release and also echoes the feeling of the recent and essential Marcel & The Truth album. Already, for me, this is an essential album. "Cameo Life" also comes into it's own very quickly and the dreamy keys and synth intro hark to the likes of Frank McComb's Motown sessions - even the vocals are in the same postcode zone! "Believe In Me" is very laid back, and handled by a lesser talent would simply be boring BUT the building atmosphere with the dreamy keys, timbales and bass is out of this world. A great song and expertly handled to boot. The synth changes in the middle of the song are so gorgeous and staged that I am given a lump to the throat. this man is sheer genius. I have stopped playing this album, and songs like the aforementioned are seriously played and played and played again, and certain portions of songs like the aforementioned section very much. These songs, should they be the only worthwhile songs, would be more than enough for me BUT there are loads more to revel in. The dreamy Zhané-ish "Come On Over" is simply a dream and the beats make this perfect for the more discerning and intelligent dancefloor. Slightly with a Hip Hop tinge, this is a great track for both head-nodders and those who like some deep synths and warm keys.

Fans of Koop's laid-back jazzy sounds will love the offbeat "Nothing 2 See". This was a tune I was not expecting to hear on this CD and it doesn't ruin the flow at all, the dreamy waltz and brushed percussion make this a gorgeous change of direction. The Impromp2-like jazzy soul of "I'll Wait" is going to be big on quality radio this Summer - and rightly so too. It is SUPERB! The funky slap bass adds a certain something to the steppers groove "So Good To Me" and the piano-led "Walk Away" a spine-tingling mix of Paul Mac Innes & T.B.O.I. and Jimmy Abney and should act as a great backdrop wherever you are and whatever you're doing this summer. The shuffling "OutTheBox" is a nod to Tim Dillinger's radio show which uses this as it's intro. At a criminal 1:15 "Be" is an exercise in synth brilliance. This really needs to be part of something equally as brilliant. As far as I am concerned I cannot recommend this release highly enough and for me a purchase is mandatory and should be added to your collection immediately!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe