Bluey (Jean-Paul Maunick) needs no introduction to readers of this web site. He’s simply a soul legend. The man’s helmed some 15 wonderful albums with Incognito, he’s worked with countless other soul and jazz folk, remixing and producing work for them and in 2013 he finally took a giant leap of faith and released his first solo album (not so oddly called ‘Leap Of Faith’). That long player was one of THE albums of 2013 and he now follows it up with a second a solo set that’s shaping up to be one of the albums of 2015.
‘Life Between The Notes’ follows on where ‘Leap Of Faith’ finished off but – because it’s Bluey… not one to sit on past glories – here he starts to take his music in a different direction. The new 13 tracker sees Bluey move more towards jazz. He says of the album: “there’s a jazz undertow that carries the whole thing along” and there are a number of cuts that might surprise a few of the more conservative soul fraternity. First up there’s the closer, ‘Sunships On The Shores Of Mars” which Bluey himself describes as “the deepest adventure I’ve allowed myself to take into the world of jazz”. The piece is intimate and experimental with oblique lyrics that make more sense the more you listen.
There’s a jazz feel too to ‘Columbus Avenue’…. a great track that describes Bluey’s time in New York City and if you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit the city you relive all the Big Apple’s atmosphere in the tune. There’s a personal perspective too to the album’s title cut. ‘Life Between The Notes’ is a wonderful slice of Bluey soul. The melody’s a peach and the lyrics intrigue as Bluey recounts his soul odyssey via the artists that have inspired him. There’s more hagiography on ‘Saints And Sinners’. This one’s a jazzy, lazy shuffle with a hint of D’Angelo (who gets a name check by the way) and again Bluey lists some of his heroes and heroines – including, some may find surprising, Joni Mitchell. Bluey requotes some of the lines from her ‘Both Sides Now’.
There are plenty more highlights, notably ‘Been There Before’ – a great, lazy soul groove with a faint echo of ‘What’s Going On’, the samba shuffle that is ‘Trippin’ On This Feelin” and the ballad ‘I’ve Got A Weakness For Your Love’. In all honesty though (and I know reviewers always say this… but this time it’s true) there are no duds, no filler here… simply great soul and jazz crafted by a musician with a committed passion and deep knowledge of both genres!