Candice Monique is the latest Australian singer to assail our soul sensibilities and though ‘In My Soul’ is her debut album, she’s previously worked with artists as diverse as Public Enemy and Jill Scott and from both she’s clearly learned that – for her – originality is the way forward. Unlike a lot of new soul wannabees Ms. Monique has eschewed pastiche and revisiting the past; instead she’s crafted eleven brand new songs that clearly won’t be everyone’s cup of soul tea – but it’s equally clear that she wants to do it her way and in the three piece Optics (Mikey Chan, guitar; Lucas Taranto, bass; Ivan Khatchoyan, drums) she’s got herself a tight little band who owe something to fellow Aussies, The Bamboos. Most accessible cut is the pretty ‘For All Time’. It has a sweet melody and the understated vocal is delightful. There’s more aggression on the album’s title cut. That one’s sparse and languid and you can sense the shadow of Amy Winehouse in the background. Candice tries her hand at funk on the dancer ‘Feel The Vibe’ while ‘Soul Dance’ offers another “up” moment though it’s nowhere near as tight. For variety there’s a trio of reflective ballads but without a melody hook it’s hard to retain interest. Better, is the humorous commentary on club life that is ‘Mama Don’t Know’ though I’d prefer to pass on the rock-meets-rap ‘Revolution’. That leaves the album’s real oddity – ‘I Wish I Was A Bass’; the cut’s as off the wall as the title suggests – indeed it’s quite bizarre though you can hear the influence of Jill Scott in the semi-spoken delivery. It’s certainly different and for that, I guess, Candice deserves credit… she may soon learn, though, that these days pastiche is a quicker route to success in the soul world.