ANITA EASTERLING: My Experience (Label: J Enterprises)

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Don’t know anything about Anita Easterling, ‘cept that she records for J Enterprises – a subsidiary of Milwaukee-based, indie set up Da Soul Recordings and with a vocal approach that betrays a deal of world-weariness, Miss Easterling certainly qualifies in that soul department. Indeed, it’s the lady’s beguiling voice that carries this album because in fairness there aren’t too many really great songs here and with a production that relies too heavily on an over-syncopated drum machine, it’s a relief to hear her understated, gentle passion. Hear Anita’s unique approach to best effect on ‘I Can’t See Myself Leaving You’. It’s one of those strange soul tracks where the appeal is hard to pin down. It’s simple – under produced even- (the horns could’ve been higher in the mix, for instance), but there’s a committed authenticity here that you don’t find on too much polished product labelled “soul”. Anita’s vocal is strained as she recounts the oft-told soul tale of the victim who just can’t pull herself free of a belittling relationship. She knows she deserves better but agrees to accept what she has with a soulful stoicism. It’s the album’s best cut, but the ballad ‘That’s What I’m Talkin’ About’ is decent too, while the chugging beats on ‘Know That I Care’ might please some dancers. It’s good to know that music like this is still being produced, even though it demands some searching out. CD Baby will aid the search while there are more details on the site
(BB) 3/5