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OMAR: THE MAN (FREESTYLE RECORDS-UK/SHANACHIE-US)
Omar, lion of the UK Soul scene, has created an immediate classic with his latest recording, The Man. Musically, there are broad stylistic variations throughout the album. The lyrics are predominantly devoted to love relationships with a few social commentary tunes, and there are several renowned guest artists. Generally, the simultaneous presence of all of these elements results in something half-baked or incongruous. Miraculously, the album manages to be cohesive. The musical performances on this collection by Omar and his support musicians are stunning, yet do not detract from the songs—another hallmark of great long-players. Although there is a dance track and some tropical rhythms on a few numbers, this is unquestionably a Soul record. “Treat You” featuring Caron Wheeler, “Eeni Meeni Myni Mo” and the new version of his massive hit “There's Nothing Like This” are what one would expect from a great “Soul Artist,” and they do not disappoint. In the case of “There's Nothing...” one might rightly ask, “Why re-do it?” The answer would be “to work with 'Bassist to the Gods,' Pino Palladino!” Mr. Palladino also lays down some nice Spanish Guitar—which only adds to his legendary reputation. In truth, Omar is the not the first artist to revisit a popular piece - Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock and countless others have done it.

Moving on to other tracks, “Bully” introduces tropical rhythms with a complex cowbell pattern, reminiscent of “It's So” from 2006's Sing (If You Want It,) but this time it has the more serious subject matter of violent lifestyles. There are Brazilian touches on “Eeni, Meeni, Myni Moe” and the closer, “Ordinary Day” which features former Jamiroquai bassist, Stuart Zender. The dance track, “When You Touch, We Touch” is an outgrowth of Omar's work with Zed Bias (aka Maddslinky) and it shares some sonic elements with their collaboration “Dancing” from 2011. Woven around the aforementioned songs are compositions like the opening track “Simplify” and the title track “The Man,” solid swatches of soul unifying the individual tracks into a single fabric of an album. The magic of this album is how it manages to be classic soul without sounding retro: distilling the essence of the past, yet very much in the present moment. If you didn't already know, this collection will convince you that Omar is very much ‘The Man’.

Rating: 10/10

About the Writer
T-Bird is a music producer, remixer, musician, radio & club DJ but first and foremos, a lover of music. He was lucky enough to be raised in a family where making or listening to music was as normal as eating or breathing. T-Bird lives in Barcelona, Spain but is from Los Angeles, CA. Email: djt_bird@yahoo.com website: www.djtbird.com
  

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