Brighton-based Soulpersona is back just eight months after his collaboration with Princess Freesia on Fast Forward with another exciting solo album full of rare groove goodness.
One of the first album’s we reviewed here at The Funk & Soul Revue was Fast Forward, a delicious collaboration between Brighton-based artists Soulpersona and Princess Freesia. For those who have not heard the album, check it out now: it’s full of tasty grooves and brilliant vocals, and is worth checking out for the appearance of none other than Jocelyn Brown on the excellent ‘Make You Feel Good’. We concluded our review by stating that: ‘that soul music is well and truly alive, and it’s great to see and hear a British album at the forefront of the neo-soul movement.’ Eight months later that statement remains true as Soulpersona is back once again with a brand new album, aptly entitled Momentum.
Indeed, it may seem a bit strange that an artist would release a brand new album of new album material so quickly after a previous release. But then the album title gives it away: it’s all about Momentum, reflecting and building upon previous successes but not dwelling greatly on the past. Surprisingly, despite his prolific remixing and production work on the UK soul scene in the past five years or so, this is Soulpersona’s first solo album since 2009’s Soulacoaster. Long time admirers and fans of Soulpersona’s work will be unsurprised to find that his latest offering is, once again, very good. As we’ve now come to expect from this disciple of rare groove the production quality is immense, the standard of song writing is high, and the list of collaborators Soulpersona has assembled is impressive.
The album opens on the mid-tempo jazz-groove instrumental of ‘I Am SoulP’, serving as an opening overture setting the tone and direction of the rest of the album. Much of the album follows in this pattern of mid-tempo funkiness. ‘Ride in Time’ is a delightful example of this: the track is superbly constructed and Princess Freesia returns to deliver another knockout vocal performance. Impressive as the vocal is, what is most impressive is the subtle intricacies of Soulpersona’s instrumentation and production, assisted by his friend and brilliant keyboardist Carl Hudson whose solo work is a delight.
Princess Freesia also handles the vocals on the sultry title track, as well as brilliant ‘Our Kind’, a tasty mid-tempo groove. Perhaps the best song that she lends her vocals to is ‘Open Sesame’ which features yet another classic Soulpersona groove, with all the guitar, bass and synth intricacies we’ve come to expect. This one is pure neo-seventies, if that is such a thing; either way, it’s very enjoyable.
Pete Simpson, another friend and longtime collaborator of Soulpersona, is featured on four tracks on Momentum. The first ‘Don’t You Think’ is stunning, clearly taking inspiration from the seventies soul legend Leon Ware; Simpson’s seductive yet raspy vocal even sounds similar to Ware. This one is most definitely a highlight of the album. His second appearance is on the ballad ‘A Song In My Heart’, which deviates slightly from Soulpersona’s tried and tested rare groove formula, but is a welcome surprise to the album. Simpson delivers an enchanting vocal, and as ever, the song’s production is brilliant. The final song that Simpson appears on is Momentum’s closer, the nearly-seven minute long jam ‘My Friend’ which also features The Digisoul Band, an outfit that Soulpersona has put together over the years to back up other artists on tour such as Leon Ware and The Valentine Brothers. Soulpersona could not have written nor produced a finer closing song; it is simply stunning.
Also making an appearances on Momentum is the incredible talent that is Deborah Bond, who previously worked with Soulpersona on a remix of her song ‘Nothing Matters’. Bond delivers a standout vocal performance on ‘Let It Go’, another delicious ballad that features a rather lovely guitar solo. Friend of The Funk & Soul Revue, guitarist Marlon McClain (of the Dazz Band and Pleasure, among others) also makes an appearance on laid back groove ‘No Games’; the song also features vocals from Dennis Bettis, whose soulful tones are an absolute treat. Meanwhile Tahirah Asha Memory invokes Erykah Badu on her reading of ‘Live & Learn’, another deviation from the classic Soulpersona formula, but once again it works. Finally, one of our favourites on Momentum is ‘Unjustified’, a rather banding up-tempo piece of funkiness that features a great vocal from Darien, and is sure to be a modern dance-floor classic.
It’s safe to conclude that Soulpersona has done it again: he’s managed to produce and release another quality album just eight months after his last quality album. This is in part due to his brilliance as a songwriter and producer, but also as a savvy independent artist. Through his use of crowd-funding site Pledge Music Soulpersona has asked his fans to help finance his new album; thanks to his impressive track record of success his fans have rallied behind his latest campaign, allowing him the artistic freedom to produce great album after great album. Many independent soul artists could learn or thing from this man. We may have had two brilliant albums from Soulpersona, but we’re already excited for the next one.