Monday, 7 March 2011

Carla Thomas - Presents Nine To Five - 2011 - Carla Thomas

Carla Thomas - not THE Carla Thomas, you understand - is a refreshing new UK artist who is rolling up her sleeves and wading into the waters to try and attract your attention. Vocally Carla is nothing like her namesake. For my well-bashed ears, Carla lies somewhere between a subdued Evelyn 'Champagne' King and a lilting Mica Paris. Carla has written or co-written all 12 songs on her debut set, and influences abound on here, all of which are healthy. The first track on this prospective release is a healthy early Zapp-like affair. Think 1980 - 1983 and their first three days. Almost, too, a flavour of Kool & The Gang. Damn right when Carla recants that "working nine to five doesn't pay the bills". So is the experience of most decent, hard working people today. Soul music is supposed to strike a chord and resonate. Carla manages this, and reminds many new artists and their money-orientated besuited corporate record execs that there is more to music than a quick buck.

"Sunshine" - something we seem to be enjoying, dare I say it at the moment! - is a very Mica Paris-like track with a lovely ethereal synth line and gentle guitar line. Both relaxed yet groovesome, this young lady is at home on this sort of groove. I really think that songs like this should garner some solid airplay for her, especially exhibiting her knowledge, appreciation and huge musical nod towards Mr. Roy Ayers and his 1976 Classic "Everybody Loves The Sunshine"! Talking of Roy Ayers, "Mystic Voyage" is sampled - shamelessly! lol - on "Leave Me Alone". The spangly guitar of "Satisfy" flows very nicely with a great mid '90s beat and rhythm that reminds me of US groups such as UNV or Portrait. this is a really, really good song. This is a song that will really get into the old grey matter and get the old fingers and toes going. Not whilst driving, though...I know the old 'steering wheel bongos' are tempting but please don't tap your feet whilst in motion!!!

"Hard For You To Say" is a quality item throughout with a flexible vocal performance and features a few lines from Alexander O'Neal's "A Broken Heart Can Mend" as an interpolated lyric, showing yet again a healthy musical background and influence. The 90s-like "Show Me" also pleases the ear and shows us that Carla is no one-trip pony. The cautionary "Caught Out" sees our heroine the victim of a cheated heart and is followed up by a tasty number called "Know You Got The Rhythm" with plenty of soul, warm keys and edgy guitar. Aping Aretha Franklyn's "Respect" and taking her hat off to what is "the groove", Carla Thomas delivers what I feel is the strongest track on the album. Easily a standout, one can hear Carla at her best and gives us an indication of what we may have with a bit of time, dedication and support. Classy! Please check out this Lady and support a new UK act with her head and heart in the right place.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe