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BEVERLEY KNIGHT: SOULSVILLE (EAST WEST RECORDS)
Two words – “A winner”. British soul singer with an edge, Ms Knight pulls out all the stops on this her 8th studio album, and first for five years. However, she’s not been idle as, among other things, she’s taken to the London stage to perform both in “Memphis” and “The Bodyguard”, where she’s due to return this month, replacing Alexandra Burke. Anyway, recorded during a week long session earlier this year at Willie Mitchell’s legendary Royal studios in Memphis, this was a dream come true for the singer. And this excitement is heard, where relevant, throughout the CD – so as she spans the gamut of R&B, soul to rock ‘n’ roll, into bitter sweet sounds. An album of cover versions it’s not, because Beverley co-wrote some of the tracks including the single and opening track “Middle Of Love”. This stomping mover, is full of depth and a certain rawness that befits the calibre of her voice. Immediately compulsive and totally hits the spot. However, what drew me to this release was her melancholic take on “All Things Must Pass” which is an flawless performance from start to finish. So believable, so commanding. Taking on Aretha Franklin’s “Don’t Play That Song For Me” is an awesome task for anyone, but Beverley didn’t follow the Queen of Soul’s dictate, rather she slowed down the track, until it reached a different groove entirely. It worked so well. Sam & Dave’s “Hold On I’m Coming”, with Sam Moore (a master stroke) is a brilliant interpretation of the classic, and Jamie Cullum duetting on Judy Clay and William Bell’s “Private Number” is another inspired idea. Y’know, there’s nothing to dislike here. It’s honestly presented, stylishly performed, with no pretention whatsoever. Just an appreciation of her peers from a lady who has been in the forefront of UK soul for years and who has established herself – or reinvented herself, perhaps – to ensure she continues to remain in the public domain. And taking this overdue release as a whole, I honestly have no hesitation in raising the flag or saluting Ms Knight on a magnificent release. With hand on heart, I haven’t been this excited about a CD since Diane Shaw’s “Love, Life And Strings” and that was over a year ago! PS to Beverley: My thanks for the autograph secured at the Cornbury Festival just recently.

Rating: 10


About the Writer
Sharon Davis ran the Four Tops fan club before spearheading Motown Ad Astra, catering for all the Motown acts, where she edited the in-house magazine TCB. Was publicist for Fantasy, Stax and Salsoul before joining Motown Records in London. Formed her own press/promotion company Eyes & Ears, worked for Blues & Soul magazine and website, and became a full time author and researcher. To date Sharon has written eleven books (her last A Girl Called Dusty published by Carlton Books) and she’s working on her next - Divas Of Motown. As a researcher, Sharon assisted Diana Ross with her autobiography Secrets Of A Sparrow, and is now in constant demand for her knowledge about Motown and its artists.
  
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