JUA: Anticipation (Label: Chocolate Chi Muisc)

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JUA: Anticipation

Jua’s a new name to me, but on the evidence of this set, he’s worth watching. Why? Well, first of all, Jua’s a great singer. Dip in anywhere here and hear a true soul stylist at work – plenty of passion – but it’s a passion that’s controlled. Secondly, he’s had the good sense to look outwards for his songs and producers. Too many new indie soul artists think they can do it all and with no one to tell them otherwise, their finished albums are often patchy to say the least. Here, though, Jua does contribute some writing and production, he allows others in on the act too – and the end result is the better for it. Thirdly, between them, Jua and his different teams have tried to move modern soul forward. They’ve attempted new approaches and (largely) avoided clichés (musically and lyrically) – and though it doesn’t always work, some of the cuts have a real, refreshing appeal. Signature cut is the LP’s title track – ‘Anticipation’. To contextualise; I’d describe it as a male version of what Jill Scott does so well. It’s a jazzy ramble – partly spoken, partly sung, with gentle instrumentation and layered harmonies. It’s not an easy song – but repeated listens will bring rewards. Like much of this album it has its own spirituality and provokes in all kinds of ways. ‘Dream’ is another excellent cut. It’s the album’s best ballad and like some of the stuff on Maxwell’s ‘Urban Hang Suite’ it’s ethereal, and otherworldly. In truth, some of the cuts are a little too complex while others take too long to kick in – but on the two I’ve mentioned Jua gets it just right. At the risk of repetition, neither are easy listens and any modern soulsters who want to take the bouncy castle ride will be disappointed, but if you like your soul a little more adventurous and interesting www.soulchoonz.com will allow you to at least investigate.
(BB) 3/5