Don’t know too much about Charlene (full name Charlene Michael-Imobioh) save that she’s a new kid on the London soul block. That said, she must have solid credentials ‘cos on this, her debut album, she’s managed to enlist some of UK soul’s heavy hitters – people like Ray Hayden and Victor Redwood Sawyer. Between them – the oldies and the newbies –have crafted a decent, refreshing modern soul set that mixes optimistic up-tempo grooves with more sombre, introspective ballads. Through it all, young Charlene just sings soulfully and with a commitment that belies her years. She doesn’t resort to vocal pyrotechnics or the diva-esque contortions of contestants on programmes like X Factor; she just offer her honest, unpretentious songs in an uncluttered but still soulful fashion.
Get the full Charlene hit on the busy, bright opener – ‘Good Day’. It’s a great, foot-tapping pop-soul confection . Tight and lovely in its beats, it’s brimful of youthful optimism… no wonder team Charlene have named the whole album for it. ‘The Central Line’ is another quality butt shaker with a great story line about romance on the London Tube and how hard it is to make any kind of contact with fellow travellers, no matter how much you fancy them! ‘First Date’ is another driving dancer – another tale of teens/twenties romance… clearly the Underground romance flowered!.
Best of the ballads is ‘It Is The Way’… ultra catchy and not as sombre as ‘Thank You’, ‘Second Guessing’ or the live string-led ‘My Yesterday’. ‘Lost’ is another album highlight. This one’s a light Latin-romp with pleasing harmonies. Listen up too to ‘Second Nature’… a laid back slab of old school soul with a great melody and big production. The song comes in a stripped down mix right at the end. Tagged “Bonus Track”, my guess is this one’s the demo that got the label, the producers and musicians on Charlene’s case. Good judges all…. watch out for big things from Charlene.