I first got to know about U-NAM (Emmanuel Abiteboul) when his jazzy guitar licks accompanied Phil Perry on the quite lovely ‘Right Here Right Now’ back in 2004. Since then, the guitar man has gone from strength to strength via a series of fine solo albums and big name collaborations. En route, he’s built up a steady and faithful coterie of fans and followers who’ll all be delighted with his latest album – ‘Future Love’ – a 15 track smooth jazz/groove-heavy collection.

That delight has already shown itself as the LP sits nicely at #20 in the Billboard Top25 Jazz Albums and little wonder … it’s stuffed with optimism and energy which anyone who knows anything of Emmanuel might find odd. You see, last year he went through a complex divorce that would leave most people emotionally drained and down. Not U-Nam. He sees the future stacked with opportunity – reflected in his new album’s title. The ‘Future Love’ track is as optimistic as the title implies; sound wise, it’s a classic guitar-led smooth jazz groove. And there are plenty more like it…. cuts like ‘Changes’ and the lovely ‘Good Old Days’ for starters. More intriguing is the electro flavoured ‘Change Of Heart’. Equally intriguing is the summery vibe of ‘Artbeat’ while the best Quiet Storm moment is ‘My Joy’.

As ever U-Nam offers some cover versions – two in fact. The first is a new take on Luther Vandross’ ‘Get It Right’ – real jazzy changes and vocal input from Tim Owns and Kim Chandler. They’re there too on a cover of Deodato’s 1984 ‘Never Knew Love’ – another album highlight.

Of course, comparison with George Benson is inevitable. However as Benson seems to be changing direction (his latest album is a tribute to Chuck Berry and Fats Domino), fans of jazz guitar will be well satisfied with what U-Nam offers so splendidly on ‘Future Love’. It’s out now on Skytown Records.