Veteran DJ/producer Ferry Ultra’s been round the soul block more than most, yet he still manages to keep his finger right on the modern soul pulse. Fronting the tightest soul combo (the Homeless Funkers) and collaborating with some major soul players, here he delivers one of the best modern soul sets of 2012. On the eponymous 12 tracker Ferry fuses his love, passion and knowledge of soul’s golden era with the very best contemporary production values to create some mighty fine soul. In many ways Ferry works like the Cool Million people and it’ll probably not surprise you to learn that one half of the Cool Million duo – Rob Hardt – is on hand here, co-producing and helping to keep things on the soul straight and narrow.
The LP’s been around for a week or two and one cut is already making considerable soul waves everywhere where modern soulsters gather. Track in question is the absolutely delicious ‘I Owe My Love To You’. It’s a perfect modern soul confection. The groove is decidedly 80s – laid back and sophisticated and the melody’s delightful and perfect for the easy-on-the-ear voice of one time Ten City main man, Byron Stingily. Stingily, of course, is now, rightly, a “name” on the soulful house scene as is fellow collaborator on the track, Ron Carroll. Ron and Byron are just two of the many big names that feature on the album. Amongst the other guests are Gwen McCrae, Kurtis Blow, Roy Ayers and Ann Sexton. The two divas bring their world-weary true soul voices to three very special cuts – ‘Happy’, ‘Let Me Do My Thing’ (McCrae), ‘Rising Up’ (Sexton); ‘Dangerous Vibes’ (you guessed it!) is the Roy Ayers cut and it’s exactly what you’d expect –laconic vocals and tinkling vibraphone; Mr Blow features on ‘The Wiggle’ – a great, old school block party pastiche.
The set also features plenty of newer soul names – Nicole Russo, Ashley Slater, Juliet Edwards, Sharon Phillips and Melva Houston – and none are out of their depth in the company of the illustrious names we listed in the last paragraph! Of particular note is the Juliet Edwards cut – ‘Groove Out Your Funky Soul’… a funky groove for sure! If you like your soul a little more down tempo though, try the lovely ‘Brown Eyed Love’ from Sharon Phillips. Two very different flavours but both with maximum soul quotient… ditto everything else on offer here.
Ferry Ultra and Rob Hardt have here put together an outstanding modern soul set; it’s right up there with ‘Cool Million III’ and R Kelly’s ‘Write Me Back’. Together, the three albums are you’ll need if you want the very, very best of 2012’s modern soul.