Soul Cycle – Flipped – Review

22 09 2010

New York’s Soul Cycle come correct with their new release, Flipped. At seven tracks deep, Flipped mixes up a few old tracks from their back catalogue and covers a handful of popular soul and jazz classics. An initial review of the tracklisting suggests an uninspiring collection of cuts that have been covered to death. I mean, we surely don’t need another version of I Can’t Help It or My Cherie Amour? Well, Jesse Fischer’s Soul Cycle somehow manage to breath life into a bunch of classic tunes, delivering smartly arranged cuts smack-bang at the intersection of soul, funk, jazz and R&B.

The opening cut is a reworking of Empty Pockets from their 2007 album, Urban Organics. This new version drops the Headhunters vibe of the original for a more contemporary sounding, sticky-synth driven, future-funk feel, and it works a treat, declaring a new chapter in Soul Cycle’s approach to jazz, resulting in a cut that is both a little more cutting edge and accessible than their earlier work.

Saunders Sermons (Maxwell’s trombonist and an accomplished soul/jazz vocalist in his own right) drops in to anoint the contemporary R&B meets jazz-standard interpretation of oft-covered In a Sentimental Mood, replete with some lounge-reggae vibes(I just made that genre up, believe me, it’s cooler than I’m making it sound). It’s a fascinating version, respectful and progressive.

Stevie’s My Cherie Amour arrives with a blast of hot synth action before tumbling into a sweet latin flecked groove. Melanie Charles provides an expressive vocal perfectly poised between soul and jazz, with ethereal backing vocals floating in and out of the fascinating arrangement. It’s one of those cuts that’s over all too soon. Maybe the guys can bring out ‘Flipped & Extended’ as their next release!!!

We’ve already raved about the Rogiers starring Outkast cover, Prototype. This firm SoulCut favourite mixes up a nice 80s quiet storm soul vibe with a little hip-hop and drum and bass action. The respectful but original arrangement is complemented by Rogiers’ beautiful vocals and a righteously funky keyboard solo from band leader Jesse Fischer.

Stevie crops up again in the shape of I Can’t Help It. I have to doff my cap to vocalist, Mavis ‘Swann’ Poole, Jesse and the Soul Cycle crew for breathing new life into this cult MJ track. The arrangement even has a little old school house feel, complete with a spot-on keyboard vibe solo. The track segues effortlessly into a reworking of the instrumental cut Streets of Gold from Soul Cycle’s recent Mosaic album. The production on this track is so fresh and, as with the preceding tracks, clearly highlights the group’s undoubted progression from an old school jazz-funk collective into a tight, contemporary and relevant act.

Soul Cycle’s earlier albums were certainly enjoyable, but perhaps a little parochial in their undeniably accurate recreation of 70s funky jazz. This new album, however, should encourage a broader audience for Soul Cycle’s brand of jazz and soul, without alienating existing fans. Flipped cogently captures the spirit of a progressive group looking to be part of the future of soul and jazz while delivering accessible and enjoyable music.

Get yourself over to their Bandcamp site and download a copy. Perhaps the best 5 dollars you’ll ever spend! Tell ‘em SoulCuts sent ya! You won’t regret it!

Find out more about Soul Cycle over at their website.




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