Back in September garlanded musician, producer and writer NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN announced he was gearing up to release a new album via the release of a set-heralding single. That single was the  gorgeous, optimistic ‘I’d Rather Dance With You’ and what made the tracks sort of special was that it was duet with his old pal Cornell CC Carter. There was obvious chemistry between the pair – a chemistry that stemmed from the years that CC had worked with Narada as a session/backing singer. ‘I’d Rather Dance With You’ is one of this year’s best stand-alone singles and you won’t be surprised to learn that it still sounds fab in the context of the just released, new  long player, ‘Euphoria’.

The 11 track album is  topped and tailed by mixes of the title track.. The opening ‘Euphoria’ is billed as a “ballad”; it is , and though it just  has simple piano/layered harmony backing it’s quite dramatic.  The closing ‘Euphoria’ is dramatic in a different. Clocking in at over eight minutes, it’s a track of two halves. The first section is pacey and will find favour with the dance fraternity. Then halfway through the mood changes as a certain Carlos Santana lets rip with an extended and frantic rock guitar solo. Not for the soul crowd me thinks.

Santana crops up again on what I presume will be one of the album’s focus cuts, ‘The More I Love My Life’ which, we’re told, was inspired by the 2001 French song, “L’amour a Tous Les Droits’.  This ‘The More I Love My Life’ really is a superstar jam. Good old Carlos adds his guitar parts, Sting (yes that Sting!) brings his vocals while dear Stevie W garnishes it all with his distinctive harmonica. It seems to me that this one’s aimed at mainstream radio rather than the soul crowd. The gang are pictured below!

The soul  brigade will  find more to enjoy in the tough beater that is ‘ Hungry 4U’, the Prince-flavoured ‘Close To My Heart’, the pacey ‘Baby Let’s Go’(which features an appearance by Dear Silas, the Mississippi-based rapper), the  brisk ‘Show Me How To Love Again’ and the crisp and tight ‘Break Free’. The album’s big set piece ballad is ‘So Beautiful’ – but you could have guessed that from the title. It’s a big, dramatic thing and like the rest of the album it’s filled with NMW’s trademarks – clever production, nifty percusion, electro flavours and no holds barred vocals.

‘Euphoria’ is Walden’s 18th solo album and like all serious music artists it represents a development in his sound. He calls it “a real leap forward“, adding “Every album is learning experience, and I grew so much working with all the great talents who helped make it happen. He further opines: “I’m so excited for people to hear this album. I’m like Bob Dylan in that I think whatever you get from my music is up to you, but I can say that my intention with these songs was to celebrate life and love. That’s the feeling I’m trying to share.”