BRENDA BEE; Sweet Disguise (Bee Bee Records)

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More and more we’re discovering excellent soul music being made in places not normally known as hotbeds of the genre. Latest discovery is Holland’s Brenda Bee. The young lady – with a great light, soulful soprano voice – is very serious about her music…. she’s a graduate of the Netherlands famous Artez Conservatory, where she majored in singing and song writing. For the last three years she’s been working the Dutch live circuit touring with and supporting some of that country’s biggest names.

Last year she started work on her own debut album and the set’s just been released on her own label, Bee Bee Records. Brenda wrote all the LP’s ten songs, knowing, I guess the material that best suits her warm, inviting voice. Maybe that explains the inclusion of four very intimate ballads on the album. ‘I Wasn’t Gonna Fall In Love’ and ‘Sad Sad World’ are ultra-intimate while ‘Like A Fool’ considerably cranks up the mournful quotient. The fourth ballad, ‘Closer’, is much more dramatic –experimental even – its Euro roots are apparent.

Soul fans, I’m sure, will be much more comfortable with the faster cuts – starting with the album’s opener, ‘Lullaby Lovin”. This one’s a great, steady mid-tempo soul groove and together with ‘Love Is Always Around’ make up the album’s highlights. ‘Love is Always Around’ is an old-school pop/soul swinger with a killer of a chorus and some great (real, I think) strings. Elsewhere ‘Tomorrow’s Yesterday’ is a pacey, poppy dancer; ‘Mystified’ is a pleasant shuffle with a touch of Caribbean swagger about it; ‘Got It Going On’ veers towards rock; and the jaunty ‘You Got Me Baby’ tips its hat towards Northern soul , but doesn’t quite get there.

So, yes, plenty of variety on ‘Sweet Disguise’… all held together by Brenda’s great vocals that can go from storming to intimate in the space of a couple of bars and enough here to merit investigation. Do so @

(BB) 3/5