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DIANE SHAW: LOVE, LIFE & STRINGS (MECCA RECORDS)
This much awaited release brings home soul music that’s influenced our lives and our loves. Against this American backdrop, Diane Shaw throws her very heart into this CD with a voice that’s strong, pure, gutsy and mellow. The ease with which she soars and dips, simmers and explodes, whether as a soloist or supported by sympathetic support singers, is an absolute joy. Not only this, but the CD is British conceived and recorded, with not a computer in sight. Alongside composers like Merle Haggard, Bea Verdi and Larry Weiss for example, Diane co-wrote “Never Been Hurt” and “Good Lovin’ Man”. Another positive string to her bow. Into the music then. When I noticed in the track listing “Say A Little Prayer” my eyes rolled. Aretha and Dionne’s classic! A brave lady indeed to tackle this I thought. Then I listened and listened, and you know, this version takes the song to a new level. It’s sweet and smooth, unpretentious and, for all the right reasons, delivered as a tribute to her peers. There’s nothing false about this CD: it’s good, honest-to-God music that crosses from the purest form of R&B into the Northern Soul sound that first attracted me to the single “Leave A Little Love” that I was introduced to by Clive Richardson on his Solar Radio programme some time ago. The song not only left me speechless, but also David Nathan, when we were told Diane was a British singer with an edge, and it’s that edge that’s so apparent during this collection of songs.

The fact that the singer and her husband Andy have involved the public from the word go with this project, makes the end result almost personal. That Diane took her involvement in the CD’s promotion that step further by either signing or including a personal note with all the music purchased, should be applauded because it proves her determination to give this stage in her career the biggest boost she can. It’s a place she’ll be in just the once, so pulling out all the stops was imperative. “These Tears Are Real” hits you head on, while “Don’t Promise Me Sunshine” is an absolute gem in construction and delivery.

Emotionally draining sums up “You Let Him Get Away”, leaving “I Go To Pieces” to wrap itself around you, particularly the string version. I so appreciate that getting here has been both physically and personally stressful for Diane and her family; how thoughts of ‘am I doing the right thing’ and ‘have I got it right?’ must have led to many sleepless nights and bitten down fingernails, but I have to say the lady and her musicians have cracked it. As she once said, this is an incredible journey for her and the fact that this is British recorded adds so much credence to the overall sound. Any insecure moments must, I’m sure, have been dispelled when hearing the results.

Diane has recorded before with limited effect, but with the valued experience gained from performing the northern club circuit, the weekenders with and without American acts, has provided a solid footing to launch herself as a serious soul singer of note which makes her a dangerous contender for her UK competitors. So, let’s get this party started!

Rating: 9


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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