Freddie Lee hails from Florida but for all kinds of complicated reasons he now calls England home and it’s in the UK (Birmingham, to be precise) that he chose to record this – his first solo album … and what a corker it is! Produced by Tony Bean and Colin Bassett, the album is packed with passion, commitment and old school soul – hardly surprising when you glance at Freddie’s bio. He’s surely paid his dues and though the CD is not a gospel album per se, it’s clear where our man’s now coming from. It’s also clear that he’s turned his life around and wants to share his celebration. That fact is self-evident from the very first track – ‘Brighter Days’ and its long choral intro. The tune is a real builder (like the song it partly replicates, Labi Sifre’s ‘Something Inside So Strong’) and interest is guaranteed with EWF style brass stabs and a big, big Sounds Of Blackness backing choir. I was reminded of prime time Sounds of Blackness on a number of other cuts too – notably the snappy ‘The Great I Am’, ‘Higher’ and ‘Friends’… then there’s the ultra catchy ‘Waiting For Me’ (built on the chassis of ‘I Knew You Were Waiting’). They’re all big tunes in every way but the more understated cuts have considerable charm too. Try the breezy ‘The Way I Found You’ or the melodic ‘Oh How I Love You’…both proving that the best UK studios can rival anything the Stateside soul production companies can come up with. Elsewhere ‘Never Wanna Be Alone’ is looser – even jazzy while the LP’s title cut (which cleverly samples ‘Where Is The Love’) offers genuinely thought-provoking lyrics. Freddie Lee’s clearly come a long way to get this debut album out there and I commend it to anyone who appreciates real, committed soul music and also to the gainsayers who say it’s not being produced any more.