Richard Earnshaw – In Time – Review

1 09 2010

Seven years in the making, In Time is a wonderful collection of jazz-funk and soul sure to get the soul fraternity, and dancefloor, all hot and sticky. It’s an album that’ll resonate with lovers of Incognito, George Duke, Jamiroquai, Roy Ayers and The Sunburst Band. It’s also one of the finest UK soul albums of the past few years.

Richard Earnshaw is a producer, writer and classically trained musician (keyboards) who has been active on the dance scene as a DJ, remixer and producer for over 10 years. In Time may be Richard’s first solo album, but it’s undoubtedly the work of a seasoned professional. The production and musicianship is second to none, matched by top notch songwriting that justifiably warrants comparisons with legendary artists such as Masters at Work and Blaze.

Good Love starts the show with a synth heavy boogie groove, featuring an impassioned vocal from Erik Dillard, before giving way to the album’s absolute killer cut, My Door is Open, featuring the UK’s finest, Carleen Anderson. Already featured on the site as a SoulCut of the Week, this track rides a wicked slap-bass punctuated groove, complimented by what may be Carleen’s greatest ever vocal (She absolutely kills it!), rabidly funky horns and a short, but incredibly sweet, piano break. Worthy features that evergreen vocal powerhouse Jocelyn Brown on an emphatic gospel house cut. Green Room is a nice slice of 2010 jazz-funk reminiscent of Herbie Hancock’s jazz-funk forays, complete with some tasty improvised sax and keys solos. Young and Foolish is a Corrine Bailey-Rae song soul geeks may remember from Mark Hill’s (Artful Dodger) The Stix project of a few years back, here delivered in a more neo-soul style.

Waiting features another SoulCut of the Week star, Kenny Thomas, sprinkling his magic over a soulful disco track with Roy Ayers adding a sweet scat/vibe solo. The album rounds off with the wonderful, spacey jazz-funk of the title track, featuring some blistering sax and vibes (courtesy of our old pal Roy Ayers, again).

In Time reminds me of Miguel Migs’ classic album, Colorful You. It marries a dancefloor producer’s aesthetic with a soulful slant to offer an album packed with tight grooves and a surprising depth. Let’s hope we won’t have to wait seven years for a follow-up.

Grab a copy of In Time right HERE. Tell ’em SoulCuts sent ya!

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Avery*Sunshine – Avery*Sunshine – Review

10 08 2010

Seven years in the making, Avery Sunshine’s debut album combines soul, jazz and gospel with lyrics jam packed with emotion, intelligence and humour. It’s an incredibly accomplished album that will undoubtedly be played by discerning soul folk for years to come. Out on Dome in the UK, I can see the majors looking to do a Ledisi with Avery and raise her up to the big time. Not that she needs them. On this evidence, she’s doing just fine, thanks.

Standouts abound on Avery*Sunshine. It’s a unified album that plays strong from start to finish. Blessin’ Me is undoubtedly the best gospel cut that I’ve heard all year long, marrying personal lyrics with a universal theme against a warm, organic, subtle musical backdrop that shifts from mellow to funky effortlessly. The Most will strike a chord with any parents but delivers its message without the saccarine delivery often associated with odes to children. All In My Head balances jazz, synth funk, blues and soul to great effect while Like This is a beautiful floating jazzy ballad that just gets better with each and every listen.

And that replay value applies to the whole album. I’ve been listening to Avery*Sunshine most days for the past couple of months and it feels like an album we’ll surely be listening to years from now. It’s too early to call Avery*Sunshine a classic, but I think we can safely describe it as the greatest soul debut of 2010 so far!

Take a listen to the album over at Soultracks, who have given Avery*Sunshine the well deserved accolade of Album of the Month for August. Also, be sure to check David Nathan’s excellent interview with Avery over at soulmusic.com.