All Music Shop Newsletter Volume 2 - December 2002 
Donna Gardier - Home

While the soul music scene in the UK has been long gone from the mainstream success, UK still has a lot of good independent labels that are promoting and preserving original UK soul sound.

Dome Records is probably one of the most influential record labels that really deserves high respect. Almost every release from this label becomes an instant soul classic and the artists become household names in their own rights: Hil St. Soul, Beverlei Brown, Dennis Taylor, and now Donna Gardier. For many die-hard UK soul fans, you should remember Donna. She is the same lady who released an album in the early 90s which brought her a club hit "Reach out". After almost a decade of silence, she emerged again as one of the excellent featured vocalists in Dome compilation album, Full Flava, which established her fame back to the UK soul scene. So finally here comes "Home", her second album. Unlike her first album, Donna has written all songs on "Home" except for the Marvin Gaye classic "How sweet it is to be loved by you". With an excellent CV inclusive of working with Full Flava, Hil St. Soul and being influenced heavily by The Jones Girls, Vesta Williams and Patti LaBelle, "Home" is definitely a quality groove orientated album with an artist who has over a decade of experience.

Deborah Cox - The Morning After

Already owned two excellent best selling albums in her basket, Canadian soul diva, Deborah Cox is back with a brand new album titled "The Morning After" under Clive Davis' label, J-Records. The first single "Up and Down" has already gained a lot of air play. It's a very sensuous song with heavy R&B groove in it. Other Standouts such as the hopeful-yet-wary "2 Good 2 Be True" and the self-respect ballad "Starting With You" define the real rules for cultivating practical relationships along with true love.

Thelma Jones - Land of Old

Remember Thelma Jones? She is the original singer of the classic R&B hit "The house that Jack Built", a song made famous later by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. She released a very good soul album in the 70s and after almost 3 decades of silence, she's back, with a brand new album, strangely titled "Land of Old". Talking about this album, it is very different than her past work. She is more focused on classic blues numbers and gospel. Therefore, what you will hear from this album is a series of traditional good old blues. She still sounds great and does not lose a single beat. The most stand-out cuts are "All Tears Fall", "Say Forever" and the bluesy soul classic "Law of Old".

Elisha La'Verne - Sensuous

While everybody is putting attention on UK soul divas like Beverlei Brown, Hil St. Soul, Shola Ama and Beverley Knight, there is one diva you should not exclude.

She is Elisha La'Verne. "Sensuous" is her fourth album. Similar to her past albums, her music is very club oriented. I have been following her career since the very beginning and she just keeps on getting better with each new album. It's way too bad her albums were only released in Japan. Talking about this album, "Skin" is my personal favorite and I believe that this is also her most personal song. She also excels very well as an mature artist in the slow to mid-tempo songs such as "Birds", "High", "He's Real" and the smooth jazzy "Morning After The Night Before" and "Issues".

Yasmeen - When will it be me

Being the first soul diva named Yasmeen signed to Magic Johnson's music label, Yasmeen got it all - the look, the body figure and the voice. When I first listening to her first single "Blue Jeans", I knew right then she has something to deliver. She has a very sweet and yet powerful voice that reminds me of Tamar Braxton (soulful diva Toni Braxton’s sister). "Being With You," "As I Am," "I Don't Wanna Smile" Diana Ross classic "If we hold on together" and the title cut "When Will It Be Me" are big, juicy ballads that allow Yasmeen to stretch both vocally and emotionally. But if you're in the mood to hit the dance floor, check "Just Wanna Be Lonely" and its straightforward message of taking the time to "Be with me, myself and I." every once in a while. When Will It Be Me offers many diverse avenues for listeners to be amazed for some time to come. Is the music world ready for the new diva? The next superstar? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, get ready to be touched again and again by the magic of Yasmeen.

Tasha - Tasha's World

Tasha's full name is Natascha Slagtand. She is a UK soul newcomer but definitely is one of the strongest newcomers in 2002. Like many UK soul artists, her debut album "Tasha's World" was released in Japan only. Nevertheless, that does not hurt because good music is always hard to find. There are a total of 16 tracks in the album. All of them are either written or co-written by Tasha herself. In case you think 16 is a little bit too much, I can tell you certainly that there is not a single boring moment. You may as well classify her music as neo-soul as she sounds a lot like Erykah Badu. Personally, I like her voice because it's very smooth and soulful. This can be proven when you hear the jazzy soulful grooves like "Breakfast London Style", "She's A Pimp", "Black Panther" and my personal favorite "Stalker".

Joye B. Moore - Project Butterfly

Similar to Tasha and Elisha La'Verne, Joye B. Moore's debut album "Project Butterfly" was released in Japan and already considered as one of the vital contemporary gospel releases in 2002.

With imprints of both urban rhythms and blues influences, Joye B. Moore's extra tight vibrato and jazz Gospel sounds are laid upon a solid base of Gospel lyrics, and ones which are sometimes laced with personal experiences, offered up as encouragement. Being an impressive vocalist, Joye also demonstrate her songwriting ability by co-writing all the 14 tracks in the album.

I was especially thrilled by her smooth jazzy vocal in songs like "One Day", "Thank You" "Canvas Of Life" and "Make Your Move". If you like Tiffany Laing's music, you should not miss Joye B. Moore.

Mariah Carey - Charmbracelet

The long-awaited album from the Princess of Soul, Mariah Carey, will be out on December 2, 2002. I cannot wait for the release as I have listened to some of the tracks from the album from her official website and extremely impressed by her new work.

She has shed off her overly sexy image and returned back to what she does best - interpreting songs with deep emotions, voice and meaningful lyrics. "Through The Rain", the album's first single, is already a big local hit generating a lot of TV and radio plays. Her next single will be a song called "The One", a beautiful smooth R&B groove that signifies her vocal range. Let's hope she will get the similar support from her new record company and push her back on top again!

Vital releases to watch out for:
1)   Martha Reeves -  Home To You
2)   Susaye Greene - No Fear Here
3)   Heather Headley - This Is Who I Am
4)   Vivian Green - A Love Story
5)   Gerald LeVert - G Spot
6)   Double - Vision (Japanese female soul singer)
7)   TLC - 3D
8)   O-Town - O2
9)   Floetry - Floetic
10) Syleena Johnson - Chapter 2: The Voice
11) Dru Hill - Dru World Order
12) K-Ci & Jojo - Emotional
13) Whitney Houston - Just Whitney
14) Jennifer Lopez - This Is Me.. Then
15) Monday Michiru - Episodes In Color (Japan)
16) Various Artists - Soul Togetherness 2002 
17) Various Artists - The Spirit Of Philadelphia 
18) Shaun Escoffery - Shaun Escoffery
19) Donnie - The Colored Section

December 2002, Raymond

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