MAYSA: Blue Velvet Soul (Shanachie)


Incredible but true – ‘Blue Velvet Soul’ is Maysa Leak’s tenth solo album… and despite a difficult personal time while she was recording the set (her mother passed away), she delivers real quality soul yet again! ‘Miss Consistent’ might have been a good title for the album; Maysa and her team, though, have gone for the much more poetic ‘Blue Velvet Soul’… and with those three little words she conjures up a musical image of late night, quite storm, romantic intimacy and across the 15 tracker that’s more or less what she delivers.

The album opens with a trio of tunes that perfectly set that mood – ‘Beautiful Dreamer’, ‘Sophisticated Lover’ (complete with hushed, breathy French lyrics) and ‘Be There’ are all classic quite storm moments and without intending to sound disrespectful, they’re the kind of things that Maysa does without too much effort. Like the other tunes produced by Chris Davis they’re wonderfully smooth and sensual but maybe, just maybe ,there are too many of them – so that after a few listens songs like ‘Inside My Dream’, ‘When You Touch Me’ and ‘What Can I Do’ blend into each other. Even the cover of Nancy Wilson’s ‘Quiet Fire’ features the same laid-back soundscape and ambience. Though Davis’s ‘Pouring Rain’, despite being built with the same ingredients, does deliver something quite magical, and, you know, it’s hard to explain just why

The other good news, though, is that amongst the fifteen cuts there are goodly number that are quite “different”… and for that we can chiefly thank long time Maysa collaborator, Bluey Maunick. The Incognito man works with the singer on three cuts and they’re the album highlights. First up there’s the wonderful ‘Good Morning Sunrise’ on which Bluey duets with his muse. Sweet and slick, it’s a fabulous piece of soul whichever yardstick you use to judge it by. ‘Put It On Me’ is different again but just as satisfying. It’s a slick up-tempo item with the kind of irresistible beats that Bluey specialises in. There’s more of that wonderful Maunick up-tempo optimism on ‘Nothing But You’. The album’s other big dance number is the Mike City written and produced ‘This Much’… another potential floor filler. The set’s other “outside” producer is Lorenzo Johnson. He provides ‘I Care’ and ‘Love Me Good’ adding just enough that’s different to counterbalance the sameness of the Davis productions.

(BB) 3/5