NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN: Evolution (Tarpan Records)

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Earlier this year this was a buzz around the soul community with the news that Narada Michael Walden was about to make a comeback of sorts. The second coming was heralded by a fab dance single called ‘Billionaire On Soul Street’ . The tune was (indeed is) a big, fast paced number that oozes optimism and energy… the qualities that the man’s breakthrough music and signature productions were famous for. It stands out here on the album that Narada’s been promising for some time and the good news is that there’s plenty more of the same good time music on offer.

The whole album kicks off with a gem. The LP’s title tune is real breeze… bright and brassy, it’s a sure-fire floor filler with a great piano solo from Frank “Killer Bee” Martin while ‘Me And My Girl’ offers more of the same upbeat polish. ‘Baby’s Got It Going On’ is as energized but a tad funkier in the Rick James fashion. If the modern soul crew, though, are looking for a real tight dance groove then their go-to tune is ‘Song For You’. .. quite delightful.

Our man “does Latin” on a cover of Richie Havens’ ‘Freedom’ while the album’s other big cover is the set’s big ballad – the Beatles’ ‘Long And Winding Road’. No explanation why he chose this one. Guess Narada just loves the tune… a great melody and a touching message, so why not? Narada takes no liberties… respect to the Fabs!

The album’s most interesting cut, though, is the gentle ‘It’s The Sixties Now’. Wistful and folksy, I haven’t quite worked out what it’s about (Summer of Love? save the Planet?) but it’s full of intrigue. Add to all that a couple of house-lite remixes and you have an album that simply says NMW is back!

(BB) 4/5