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Songs
1
We Are One4:27
4.5
8 total
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Genres
Tracks
1
Released
December 19, 2018
Label
℗ 2018 Showtime Records (South Africa)
File type
MP3
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Streaming and by permanent download to your computer and/or device
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Beverley Knight was responsible for some classy soulful singles throughout the late '90s and into the new century but she had never managed however to attain much in the way of album sales, her best effort to date being the number seven Who I Am from 2002. So the climate was ripe for a greatest-hits collection which EMI hoped would place her in a more adult-oriented market. Voice was very representative of her body of work, containing 15 tracks in total and three bonus tracks, including a version of Chaka Khan's "Sweet Thing," and a live cover of Robbie Williams' career-defining hit "Angels," recorded for Radio 2 with a simple piano background and a gospel-style vocal. Of the 12 remaining tracks, every one had been a hit single from her debut back in 1995: "Flavour of the Old School," complete with its formulaic rap break, through to her then-most recent hits "Keep This Fire Burning," and a brave attempt at an R&B version of Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart." Her music ranged from the ultra smooth ballads "Gold" and "Who's Gonna Save Your Soul" to the Chic-"Good Times" sampled "Made It Back," and the '70s disco influenced "Greatest Day." Although she had been hitting the charts quite regularly since 1995, albeit not that close to the top, it was with the dance track "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" in 2002 that she finally broke through to the Top Ten and the album opens with this hit. In fact, the first four tracks were her two biggest singles, including 2004's "Come as You Are," and the two most recent hits: the Joplin track and "Keep This Fire Burning."
Recorded in just five days in the deep south of Nashville, Tennessee, Music City Soul sees one of Britain's most accomplished urban talents, Beverley Knight, return to her roots following the underperformance of 2004's highly commercial Affirmation. Despite its recording location, the Wolverhampton diva's fifth studio album hasn't gone all country, but instead focuses on the Southern soul sounds of the '60s that influenced her early career. Whether it's a knee-jerk response to the disappointing sales of her "all-bases-covered" predecessor, or a genuine affectionate homage to the likes of Al Green, Sam Cooke, and Aretha Franklin, its 15 tracks are undeniably and authentically old-school, thanks to Mark Nevers' organic production, Knight's full-throttled soulful vocals, and an inspired choice of collaborators and song choices. The Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood lends his guitar skills to three tracks, including the bluesy feel-good opener "Every Time You See My Smile," and an impassioned gospel take on his own band's 1964 hit "Time on My Side," Robbie Williams' former songwriting partner Guy Chambers offers his trademark melodic sensibilities to both "Black Butta," a rip-roaring slice of rock & roll which owes more than a nod to Ike & Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits", and the Aerosmith-goes-funk of "Saviour," while the achingly gorgeous "No Man's Land," a languid but luscious ballad which showcases a rarely seen fragile side to Knight's usual blistering vocal presence, is the album's stand-out track, co-written with Adele and Joss Stone cohort Eg White. But suffering the same fate as many of her releases, Music City Soul can't sustain the same standard throughout, as she fails to make her mark on pedestrian cover versions of Homer Banks' "Ain't That a Lot of Love" and Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady," while the likes of "Tell Me I'm Wrong" and "Trade It Up" seem more concerned with replicating the period's vintage sound than providing any memorable hooks or melodies. Music City Soul may be one of the more credible Southern soul pastiches, but by looking to the past instead of focusing on the future, Knight is now in danger of surrendering her Queen of U.K. soul crown.
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