Well, hello there!
Bet you thought I skipped the country, huh?
Actually, I've just been holed up in my basement, madly mixing the new IJG album. More news on that front soon, but in the meantime here's something else:
Actually, before I go any further, I gotta revise a statement I made in a recent post -- Hounds of Love is just about as good as The Kick Inside.
But now back to the issue at hand: wow, there have been a lot of "neo-soul-divas" coming down the pike over the last few years. Let's see: you've got yer Lauryn Hill, yer Erykah Badu, yer Alicia Keys, yer India.Arie, yer Corrine Bailey Rae, and now, yer Amy Winehouse. That's just off the top of my head.
I think this is great -- much of this music is superior to the stuff that really sells (of the ones I listed, Alicia Keys is the only one who leaves me completely bored -- and she's probably the richest of the bunch). But every time one of these artists breaks, there is a lot of talk about how she is bringing back some long-lost quality of vintage soul / r&b music (or whatever you want to call it). And every time these claims are made, my ears perk up, because, as you know, I, uh, kinda like that old music a lot (especially of the Stax and Muscle Shoals variety).
The above Nicole Willis, who is being similarly marketed, is, as far as I can tell, the first to really live up to the hype. There is something about Willis and her (Finnish!) band (the Soul Investigators) that demonstrates a deep understanding of that music too, right down to the recording techniques. (Mic distortion?! On a commercial record?! That's brave.) The Nina Simone / Irma Thomas / Marvin Gaye vibe certainly doesn't hurt, either.
It's not astonishing music -- it's weirdly familiar, actually -- but it works.
Here's the album in question.