It’s nearly two years that Jean-Paul Maunick, aka Bluey, founder of the incredible Brit-Funk band Incognito released his first solo album, Got To Let My Feelings Show. That album was a great success for Bluey in showcasing his fabulous musical skills, as well as getting a lot of airplay for the lead single. Now, after releasing a great Incognito album last year in Amplified Soul, Bluey is back flying solo on his second release Life Between The Notes.
The single of the same title dropped back in March to much excitement; the song’s bass line is delightfully funky, as are the lyrics which Bluey delivers well. With Incognito Bluey appears happy to let others take the spotlight vocally, but he himself posses a fine voice as demonstrated here, particularly on the title song. As we reviewed earlier on, ‘Life Between The Notes’ is sure to be another classic Bluey track in years to come; its self-reflective lyrics, and brilliant instrumentation is a delight to hear.
Compared to Bluey’s solo debut, Life Between The Notes is much more jazzier. For instance ‘Trippin’ on This Feelin’’ is a bossa-nova inspired ballad which sounds like something that Sergio Mendes might have produced. The song also features Bluey’s largely unheard vocal ability: his tenor is delightful, showcasing once again that there is more to this man than simply his guitar playing. ‘Columbus Avenue’ is a great piece of modern soul-jazz: Bluey’s vocals glide over the jazz instrumentation, which itself is arranged beautifully, featuring a great piano arrangement. Again, this is a marked difference of what long-time Incognito fans might come to expect from a solo Bluey album, but then that is the point – it gives Bluey space to experiment with his musical influences.
One song that could be part of the Incognito catalogue would be ‘I’ve Got A Weakness For Your Love’, which again features a jazz element, it has a neo-soul mid-tempo groove for Bluey to demonstrate further his vocal range. The lyric is particularly catchy here, creating a nice modern soul ballad. In contrast, ‘Been There Before’ is a lovely up-tempo piece of jazz-funk that features Bluey’s trademark guitar riffs, as well the classic pounding Incognito bass, combining to great a really funky track. This one is perfect for radio airplay and is sure to get a lot of airplay amongst the soul stations and presenters.
The final song is another standout moment on the album. ‘Sunships on the Shores of Mars’ is a poignant mid-tempo ballad, which rounds of the album beautifully. The jazz nature of the song is exquisite, as are the George Benson-esque guitar licks. It’s one of the best songs on Life Between The Notes – it’s wonderful.
Overall, Bluey has put together yet another fine release. We shouldn’t really be surprised, the man continues to deliver year after year either with Incognito, or with his side projects such as Citrus Sun, or now as a solo artist. For those of us in Britain, Bluey is a true icon of British soul music and has been a pioneer for the last thirty years. Long may he continue to produce such great music.