Since the implosion of the second incarnation of the Isley Brothers and the demise of Isley-Jasper-Isley, keyboardist/vocalist Chris Jasper has forged a successful solo career and in an amazing 30 years he regularly releases fine album after fine album and this latest, ‘Share With Me’, it’s right up there with his best. The ten tracker offers all that Chris’ fans have come to expect… “proper”, grown-up soul songs (both Jasper originals and covers) delivered with a passion and a commitment to his craft, driven, I’m guessing, by the artist’s faith and belief in a higher power that directs and supports him.
I’m making that assumption since one of this album’s highlights is a revelatory treatment of the traditional Christian hymn, ‘How Great Thou Art’. Forget how you might have been forced to sing it at school; hear it here as it was meant to be sung…. a thing of simple beauty and even if you’re not a believer, if the stunning fade out harmonies don’t make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, then you don’t have (or understand) soul!
Other album highlights? Well there are plenty. The LP’s title cut is a gentle, insinuating builder; the cover of ‘You Are So Beautiful’ has a lovely ethereal quality; ‘Love You’ boasts a great melody over beats that should satisfy modern soul dancers; and ‘That’s What Love Can Do’ is another with sophisticated dance appeal. Little wonder it’s already being regularly rotated on Jazz FM.
Elsewhere, ‘Why’ is a bumpy, almost funky groove while ‘Funky Thing’ is just that… complete with Ernie Isley style guitar and vocoder effects.
On the debit side, I found it hard to connect with ‘America’. Sure I’m not an American, but I do avidly follow news and current affairs and I found it hard to reconcile the song’s sentiments with some of the news stories that have come out of the States in recent months. I’ll choose to pass on this one, Chris, but thank you for the solace of ‘How Great Thou Art’… and the other great tune herein.