SOUL DEAN: Cipher Soul Revival (Label: Cipher Soul)

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SOUL DEAN: Cipher Soul Revival

Don’t know too much about Soul Dean, nor am I too sure about what cipher soul is or why, indeed, it needs reviving. What I do know though is that this little 15 tracker is an intriguing, real modern soul set that’s well worth investigating if you want to get away from the formulaic and the predictable. The album, I think, is meant to be a concept piece since the music’s divided by intros, outros, radio links and spoken word pieces – most telling of which comes from the Last Poets’ Abiodun who makes some provocative comments about the relationship between hip hop and poetry. As enjoyable is the opener ‘Cipher Soul Revive Us’. It doesn’t make me understand the concept any better but it has a lovely feel to it that’s reminiscent of those Ibiza chill-out tracks. And the music? Well there’s some heavy stuff on here – heavy both musically and lyrically but amongst the deeper stuff there are three excellent, accessible soul cuts that demand a listen. First up there’s the sparse, crisp, funky foot-tapper, ‘Higher’ … one for the dance floors. Then there’s the annoying ‘Long As I Got’. Annoying, ‘cos it will remind you of so much classic soul – from Sam Cooke through to Maxwell – though you’ll be hard pushed to pin it right down. Last of the three is the LP’s best tune – ‘Brand New Day’. It’s a very sweet, rolling affair that – in places – sounds like George Clinton playing around with the Delfonics’ La La La Means I Love You’. Indeed there is a Clintonian presence to the whole collection – though there’s a little more overall coherence. Maybe the best musical comparison I could make would be to suggest that Soul Dean and his crew sound like Sly Stone collaborating with Prince – but only after both had readjusted their social consciences.
(BB) 3/5