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You’ll probably know that Scottish soul man JOSEPH MALIK has been on the UK soul and funk scene for quite a while. Indeed he debuted back in 1994 and he’s been around ever since, building up an impressive CV via work with people like  Gil Scott Heron, Rueben Wilson, The Blackbyrds and the Last Poets. More recently Mr. M’s been on an upwards trajectory via his liaison with Ramrock Records  and that’s the imprint for, this,  our man’s latest album.

‘Proxima Ebony’ has been flagged up by a number of singles – notably ‘Adult Contemporary’ and  ‘Trouble With A Capital T’ and both sit well on the 11 tracker. You’ll remember that the former has a 70s disco flavour (think maybe Sylvester?) while the latter is a soulful dancer. They provide two flavours on  a varied musical menu. There’s sombre (‘Hollywood Africans’ has a cinema noir feel), neo soul balladry (‘My Whole World (Is Fallin’) ft. Kameelah Waheed), gentle acoustic (the folksy ‘High Over Low’), broody hip hop (the album title track with rhyming from Capitol A), crossover jazz (‘Shuya San’ which features  Shuya Okino from the Kyoto Jazz Massive) and a whole lot more.

 Malik explains that the variety of flavours is meant to offer a cross pollination of the cultures – more specifically  Scottish  and Nigerian  – that have shaped him and his music. But what holds the album together is the vocal honesty and commitment and the sympathetic production  and arrangements from Ramrock’s Darren Morris and Jo Wallace.

‘Proxima Ebony’ album is available    now on all digital platforms on. There’s a vinyl release  due January.

(BB) 3/5

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