COLIE WILLIAMS; Light Up The Darkness (PH Balanced Music)

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Colie (Colette) Williams was born and raised in the Bronx, but now lives and works out of Washington DC where she’s a popular draw in the local jazz and soul clubs… and it’s easy to hear why she pulls in the crowds. She has an easy on the ear sound that’s a mix of sultry jazz and classic soul and, importantly, her songs are thoughtful and adult without becoming too obscure, off the wall or demanding. A good example of that song style here is her ‘Black Love’. The song explores the theme of the strong, proud matriarchal tradition within the Afro-American community. It’s been done many times in the past, of course, but here Colie avoids the sentimental and the over dramatic and offers real optimism. ‘Passing Day’ is another well-crafted song with an optimistic message while the opening cut – ‘Ol Soul for a New Day’ – is a soulfully felt appreciation of the work of singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holliday… “the ancestors” as Colie calls them.

Elsewhere ‘Everywhere I Go’ is a crisp little beater while ‘All U Need’ is another well-constructed tune. Yes, Ms. Williams writes decent songs but she also has the ear to pick up a great cover. Here she tackles Patti Austin’s lovely, lilting ‘In And Out Of Love’ and what a great laid-back job she makes of it. The concise 9 tracker is completed by an organic, rhythmic ‘Angel’ and two mixes of ‘You/Reggae Love’ – which, as is obvious from the title, is a Caribbean flavoured tune complete with rap from Jah Pickney. There’s no explanation why it’s been given the remix treatment – odd, really as it’s the album’s most innocuous track. Yet, despite that Ms. Williams’ vocal remains engaging. Here – and indeed throughout – I was reminded of the great Carmen Lundy. Find out more @

(BB) 3/5