Sunday, 19 July 2015

Akua Allrich - Soul Singer, album review

No Soul Boundary

Allrich isn't a soul singer as the album's title would have us believe, and the scat'n'laugh inside second track I've Got Something To Say is a clue to her prevalent stylistic leanings, even more so on third Can't Seem To Get You Off Of My Mind with the meandering jazz trumpet accompaniment of Nicholas Payton. Allrich's Facebook page has a broader stab at her musical palette with Jazz + ... Neo Afro-Soul-blues-reggae-funk-rock-folk music and I'd accept all of that playful though accurate enough naming is there - including that singular 'soul' - but it is the jazz mode she embraces most, superbly.

The gospel-jazz of seventh Rosie encapsulates brilliantly the strength and beauty of Allrich's vocal and the jazziness in which it resonates so effectively; whilst the following Red Bark projects the African influences in the singing and in the powerful saxophone and conga playing, the latter by Agyei Akoto. The title track, next, actually establishes the manifesto when it says soul singer...let it go past the boundary and the jazz surround is yet another wonderful musical embrace.

A brilliant double-bass intro leads into the melodic line for the funky cover of I Can't Stand the Rain, again with Nicholas Payne adding his own trumpet jazzfunk, and the album closer Stand for Freedom is a rousing end with the Nationhouse Youth Vocal Ensemble making its contribution to the aural goosebumps. This is a great album, full of energy and class.

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