Since the Jazzanova et al crew has forged a mighty heavy iron in the nu jazz field, they might as well try their hand at nu (neo) soul. And, with The Underwolves, Joseph Malik, and Victor Davies, they are making quite an impression. Davies is a gifted musician with an Al Jarreau smoothness to his voice, gliding along silky notes and caressing the ears. Much like Sade, he knows his range and exploits it for all it is. A real smooth soul crooner who melts like butter from your speakers. A must-have for the Courvoisier set.
The title of the album says it all, and some of the best have deconstructed Davies’ eponymous debut to ultimate effect. Masters At Work flip “Sound of the Samba” from a schmoove-ass ballad into a teflon-glide dance cut with Davies’ angelic voice floating effortlessly through the changes. Da Lata takes that same song and scorches it into a sublime, Brazilian disco pelvis shaker. Nuspirit Helsinki slap a Scuba-esque (deluged with his trademark blips and bleeps) treatment on “Runaway Train,” which allows you to ignore the unfortunately trite lyrics. Bugz in the Attic inject pure broken-beat adrenaline into “Lady Luck.” Leme takes the same song and throws in some different broken beats and adds an Ernie Isley guitar touch. Marc Rae, Dixon, Only Child, London Electricity, and Procreation also add their own interpretations.
Each producer treats Davies with respect and adds their own unique flavors to his colorful vocals. The end result is heavy on groove and light with the silk of the man’s voice. This is a nice, calming, sensual disc that fans of the soul can really appreciate. A quiet storm just waiting to sweep into your CD player.
Jazzanova-Compost Records: http://www.jcr.info