Sharp-eared soul fans will instantly recognize the wondrous voice of soul “newcomer” , Imani. You see, the Derby-born singer (who, by the way, was nurtured into the music biz by Jocelyn Brown) has featured on no less than 10 Incognito albums! Imani is one of the key voices on the veteran band’s latest long player, ‘Amplified Soul’ and main man Bluey is loud in his praise; “Imani possesses one of the most wonderful and memorable voices to grace an Incognito album”. Who are we to argue with Mr. Maunick but if you want more testimonials ask Nile Rodgers, Chaka Khan, Maceo Parker Betty Wright or UB 40 all of whom have called on Imani to help them out in the past! Imani has also worked with Garage acts Tru Faith and Dub Conspiracy, house heroes the Layabouts and she’s even represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest…. and she’s proud to say she came second in 1998 with ‘Where Are You’.
With such a busy, in-demand career no wonder it’s taken till now for Imani to have her own solo album. With the tongue-in–cheek title, ‘Standing Tall’ (our girl is diminutive at just 4 ft. 11 inches), the 11 tracker proves why Imani is the go–to-girl for the stars we’ve listed above. Whether the tune is a dancer, a sensitive ballad or reflective social commentary the soul quotient and commitment is consistently high.
The set’s opening cut, ‘Ten Thousand’, is the immediate vote-winner here. It’s a sophisticated mid-tempo dancer than will recall the best of Incognito – hardly surprising; it’s their horn section adding the spice to the track! ‘Struggling’ is another sweet, mid-tempo item but it’s on the ballads that Imani’s voice comes into its own…. choose from any of ‘Please Let Me In’, ‘Step Back’ ‘Let’s Do It Right’ or ‘Sorry I Am’ to hear what I mean. All have varying degrees of soulful drama but my favourite is ‘Fall Or Fly’ – a gentle caress of a song that offers a warm embrace. It’s a far cry from ‘Standing Tall’ – a choppy, rocky item that I found difficulty connecting with but it does allow Imani to stretch out vocally and show what she can do.
Imani’s ‘Standing Tall’ is released on Dome Records on November 3rd.