One of the most eagerly anticipated albums in UK soul has finally dropped – Soulpersona & Princess Freesia’s exquisite new collaboration ‘Fast Forward’. Soulpersona has been producing high quality neo-soul grooves for a while now, including an excellent remix of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’, producing two tracks on soul-royalty Jocelyn Brown (including the marvellous ‘In The Middle’), as well as his own album ‘Soulacoaster’ in 2005. He also produced Princess Freesia’s album ‘The Lapdancer’, as well as last years’s album ‘Amalgamation’ under the ‘Soulperfreesia’ banner. Now, funded by their fans, they are back.

The album begins with the title track, which builds into a delightful groove before Princess Freesia “fires up the Quattro”, and comes in with her unique vocal style. The groove continues on ‘Analog’ where the tempo is raised, and one can’t help but bob the head from beginning to end.

Fast Forward’ also features a remake of the their earlier collaboration, the song ‘You Did It Again’; this version is slightly faster making it more suitable for the dancefloor than the original, and with the added slap bass, somewhat funkier too. The guitar blends well with the bass creating a true eighties-style groove, soul track that is simply delightful. Once again, Princess Freesia delivers another knockout vocal performance.

One of the real treats on the album is their sample of the disco smash ‘Give it Up’, originally recorded of course by K.C. & The Sunshine Band. Unlike K.C.’s version, Soulpersona and Princess Freesia slow the tempo right down, complete with a smooth saxophone solo and new lyrics. It’s one of the best songs on the album; despite being slower, it still retains a certain groove and Princess Freesia delivers yet another inspired vocal.

Perhaps the treat on the album comes in the form of ‘Makes You Feel Good’, which is not only a great, well-produced groove, but also features the guest vocals of Jocelyn Brown. Yes, the Jocelyn Brown. And my, has she still got those pipes. She delivers her vocal with all the power and class that only Jocelyn possesses. That said, Princess Freesia holds her own well – the two sing together well, and the song sounds like a true collaboration without one vocalist trying to outshine the other. Each gives the other ample space to do their thing, and it pays off: this song is sure to be a future soul classic.

The rest of the album is equally well polished (check out the super-fast ‘Polyester‘); Soulpersona lays down the groove expertly and Princess Freesia is consistently impressive with her vocals. What’s even better about this album is its length: sixteen songs (including bonus tracks) reaching nearly an hour and twenty-six minutes. This is a proper soul album that sounds as good as anything from the classics of eighties soul. Soulpersona and Princess Freesia have demonstrated, once again, 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.