Well, it’s been a while, but at long last, ultra-soulful HIL ST SOUL (Hilary Mwelwa, of course) is releasing a new album  and previews reveal that the 11 tracker that is ‘Back In Love’ is a real soul corker!

We think that it’s been over a decade since Ms M released a full album and, surprisingly, ‘Back In Love’ (released Friday November 18th via Shanachie) is only the lady’s fifth long player! The reason for the delay between recordings simply seems to be that Hilary took some time out. She says: “I spent a year in my homeland (Zambia) collaborating with talented local musicians and curating some live shows. When I returned to the UK I got a call from Steve Ripley of Soulfood Music UK and he said the manager for Noel Gourdin was re-mixing a song for the UK market and they were looking for a UK songstress to feature. The end result was a duet called ‘No Worries.’ That was the catalyst that got me back to recording again. Over a period of time, I delved into a different creative side of music by doing some soulful house projects. That opened up my creative juices and resulted in several featured collaborations that allowed me to express myself in a different way.”

Those “featured collaborations” include work with people like Regi Myrix, Dwele, Lorenzo Johnson and Noel Gourdin (again) and those partnership[s delivered a series of acclaimed singles like the lovely ‘One Life’, the soulful ‘In My Groove’, the cover of the Ohio Players’ ‘Heaven Must Be Like This’, the duet with Noel Gourdin, ‘Blessed’ and  the recent ‘a Feeling So Beautiful’ .

All those cuts are featured on the album and that’s one of the reason why the collection is just so damned good. You see ‘Back In Love’ hasn’t been cobbled together in  a rush to meet some kind of deadline. Rather, it’s a carefully curated affair on which each track has had plenty of attention lavished on it.

The other reason why the album is soulfully excellent is the singer! Hilary is at the top of her game here. Hear her quality on the lovely ballad ‘King’. Hil can cut the rug too. Here, her ‘Party On’ is a proper Saturday-Night-out- hands-in-the air affair. But to really appreciate the soulful intensity of the lady, go straight to ‘Sweet Heaven’ – a simple affair, just Hilary, some acoustic guitar and angelic harmonies.

‘Sweet Heaven’ is an ode to pure love. Indeed the whole album speaks to and of romance – a welcome respite in these troubled times. Hilary again: “This album represents a turning point in my life. It represents LOVE. My love of life and music. It’s a love letter to my listeners that have been with me on my musical journey. I’ve been making music for 20-odd years and to have taken time out, come back and pick up where I left off is just amazing; to still have an audience and the support of radio is incredible. I’m just thankful that I’m still in a position where I can share my artistry.”

HIL ST SOUL; Back In Love released November 18th via Shanachie