Kabanya Chemise is part of that seemingly never-ending coterie of Atlanta-based nu-soul singers, though on ‘The Mosaic’ she offers a twist to the genre. You see the album is a gospel set – hardly surprising given them lady’s grounding in the strict Baptist tradition back home in Albany, Georgia. That apprenticeship is evident on each track – vocally the delivery is passionate, committed and can go from restraint to unbridled in the space of a few bars.
Lyrically and musically the most obvious gospel numbers are ‘Blessed’ and ‘Job 23; 10’ – both biblical texts – sung and (in the case of the latter) semi-spoken with a resonance that only total belief can bring. However, as with a lot of modern gospel albums, the lyrical messages of some songs can be applied secularly while the musical settings aren’t a million miles away from the rhythms and arrangements of Atlanta’s best modern soul purveyors. Case in point is the catchy opener- ‘You Got Me’. In Ms. Chemise’s case the “you” is clearly the Lord, but the joyous nature of the track means that it could also apply to temporal love too. The ballad ‘Consume Me’ has a similar ambiguity and musically you may be reminded of Jill Scott. Other goodies? Well, the single ‘Blue Sky’ (a big production, by the way) is lovely and summery while ‘This Time’ has a real old fashioned feel to it.
Most classically “soulful” track is ‘Nothin’ Left’ which features some great harmonies from Sha’ Simpson and Avery Sunshine and for something completely different ‘All Things’ is a lilting reggae swayer; it’s also offered in a heavier, dubbed version towards the end. So, a lot of musical variety from what is ostensibly a gospel set; those in the know, though, know that modern gospel can offer an escape from some of the clichés (especially lyrical) of modern soul… so, worth an investigation, this.