DEBRA DEBS: Life Cycles (

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This lovely little 11 tracker is currently getting some serious attention from serious soul tastemakers like Jazz FM’s Peter Young. Good old PY knows more than most about decent soul so we here @SJF though it was about time we found out more about Ms Debra Debs. We discovered that singer-songwriter Debra was born in Cameroon but is now London-based. We also learned that ‘Life Cycles’ is her first full LP – a follow up to a successful 2011 EP  – tracks from which scored countless hits on You Tube. She describes her musical influences as people like Jill Scott, Lauren Hill, Mary J Blige, R Kelly, Floetry and Ella Fitzgerald… no wonder she calls her music “a crazy blend of NeosoulfulJazzyRnBAfrosoulThings”; I’d prefer to call it great modern soul. And I mean proper modern soul… not the retro grooves that masquerade as “modern soul”. Sure, Debra’s taken lots from the people who’ve influenced her (and her mother’s extensive jazz collection too) but she’s managed to craft her own unique and totally contemporary sound.

Hear that uniqueness at its best on the jazzy, loose-limbed ‘Fizzy Lemonade’. It’s an edgy little tune with an intriguing lyric. Ms D knows it’s a good ‘un ‘cos she hands it to a remix team to give it an extra tweak. That “Felo Le Tee” remix features as the set’s “bonus” and it’s a wonderful foot-tapping, jazzified, housified thing. ‘Fizzy Lemonade’ though isn’t totally representative of the album… the overall atmosphere is much more laid back. Try the gentle ‘Caught Up’ or the sweet ‘Love Galore’ to hear soporific at its best. ‘Clear My Name’ is another album highlight. With understated strings, it has an unusual hypnotic quality about it. As a bonus the lyrics match the quality of the melody and the production… and that’s true of all the songs. Even the autobiographical snapshot that is ‘Daddy’ avoids tweeness and sentimentality. And if you want a killer, mature ballad to start off 2014 try the remarkable ‘Speeches’… sweet n’lovely with a gritty edge and great production from Precious Obimidi.

Up top we said the serious soul tastemakers were digging ‘Life Cycles’; no wonder, it’s got some serious soul on it. Find out more @

(BB) 4/5