MOSE STOVALL: Groove U (Label: Soul 1st.)


The strap line on this 11 tracker declares that Mose Stovall offers the “new sound of southern soul and R&B” and in many ways they’ve got it right. Mr. Stovall has a fine, gruff, soulful southern voice that would stand comparison with Johnnie Taylor. Sadly, though, what’s “new” about his overall sound is the very thing that stops the album being really, really good. Mose and his team (writers and producers Austin Hall and Robert Harris) know and understand all about studio budgetary constraints. Hence most of the cuts here rely too heavily on synthesised programming for their basic tracks, and their programmes’ inherent artificiality is at odds with the searing conviction of the vocal itself. Hear the problem right away on the opener ‘Groove U Baby’. The voice convinces but the thin, tinny programming doesn’t. There’s the same problem with the album’s set-piece ballad – ‘Sneakin”, Good ole Mose gives his all but he’s brought down by some particularly poor synthesised strings. Where things work better is when the producers use a lighter hand and let the songs and the vocals do the work. Best examples are two very decent dancers ‘Been There Done That’ and ‘Dance’. The former has a live guitar and an ever-so-catchy chorus featuring label mate Omar Cunningham while the latter is aimed at the steppers who’ll delight in the sharp beats. Elsewhere, there’s a touch of blues (‘Good Lovin’) and some old fashioned rustic southern songs (‘Miss You’ and ‘Turning Point’) but the lack of soul in the programmes works against what the singer’s peddling. A well-intentioned album this, and one that honestly faces the realities of modern music making – but it doesn’t quite come off. It’s currently available via
(BB) 3/5