Tag Archives: Soul

Alice Russell – To Dust (2013)

Alice Russell - To Dust (2013)

Alice Russell is a British soul singer who has worked with the likes of trip-hop producer Quantic, as well as nu-jazznik Nostalgia 77, and David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.

From the start, it is obvious that Russell is on top form. Her voice has to be one of the best in Britain. The album begins well enough, A to Z is an interesting and inventive take on songwriting, done really well and Heartbreaker Pt. 2 has a Stevie Wonder sound with funky organ, although with chilled beats. And here’s where my disappointment starts. While Russell is on the whole fantastic, the backing music, especially the rhythm section, just sounds completely lacklustre on some tracks.

I also feel like there is a certain amount of kowtowing to the pop-industry’s expected sound; Let’s Go (Breakdown) is pure chart-style pop and I feel it is really lacking in quality, especially at the end when it seems to fade out just as it is getting going. This is followed by Drinking Song (Interlude), another song with a really poppy chorus, although Russell sounds more in touch with her normal mode in the verse.

There are some great tracks, though. Citizens is a great trip-hop track, with a looped piano riff lumbering onwards; Twin Peaks shows Russell’s soulful sound so well, unrushed and  sounding like classic Diana Ross; and Hard & Strong is a catchy upbeat number.

Overall, I was disappointed. Great singing, not so great production.

Favourite tracks: Twin Peaks, Citizens, Hard & Strong

Spotify link: Alice Russell – To Dust
Sneak peak: 

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Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again (2012)

Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again (2012)

Michael Kiwanuka is a British soul singer of Ugandan heritage, who has been likened to Bill Withers, Otis Reading, and The Temptations, and Home Again is his debut album.

First off, a confession, I’m not a massive fan of Soul/Motown. I can definitely go for some Smokey Robinson or Marvin Gaye now and again, but apart from the hits, I don’t find that much of it catches my attention.

With that in mind, I have to say that I wasn’t blown away by Home Again. The album is well produced and the music is well played, Kiwanuka has a good voice and the album isn’t offensive to my ears; and that’s the problem, I didn’t find it particularly challenging or engaging.

There are some highlights for me. Bones is a track I’d heard before today, and I think it’s great, the opening track, Tell Me a Tale, is a good track, harking back to the 70s sound, They Say I’m Doing Fine has got a nice bluesy feel to it and Now I’m Seeing sounds like it could be Randy Newman; there are even inklings of jazzy sax and flute, but overall, I don’t think I’m the target audience for this and I found little of interest. I know that people will like this, but not me, not really.

Favourite tracks: Tell Me a Tale, Bones, They Say I’m Doing Just Fine

Spotify link: Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
Sneak peak: