TAMMY HARRIS: Natural Vibe (Label: Root Soul)

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TAMMY HARRIS: Natural Vibe

This album was originally released in 2007 but is now being vigorously re-promoted and if you missed it first time around then I’d encourage you to investigate ‘cos it’s a one of the strongest female indie soul sets of recent years. Why… Well, Ms. Harris has a great soul voice; the label’s not stinted on production values (real instruments!) ; and the songs are a thoughtful mix of covers and originals – and those originals show real quality – something which we don’t say too often about self-produced indie albums. Let’s consider the covers first. They comprise three soul chestnuts and a Rodgers and Hammerstein standard. The soul faves are Phyllis Hyman’s’ You Know How To Love Me’, Stephanie Mills’ ‘Never Knew Love Like This Before’ and the Brand New Heavies’ ‘Never Stop’. On all three Tammy injects real joy – totally in keeping with the spirit of the lyrics and the intentions of the original artists. They’re optimistic, big and brash but on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘The Sweetest Sound’ the lady proves that she can do understated too. The tune’s given a light Latin treatment and features some sweet piano and guitar from Brian Danzy and Bobby Fambro respectively. The cut would sit well on the play lists of the most discerning smooth jazz/soul radio stations as too would almost any of the original songs. Of those the title track is outstanding. It rides a great groove and has just the right amount of edgy tension. ‘Come Over’ is another goodie … laid back and laconic with intriguing trumpet and flugelhorn passages. ‘I Would Be Your Love’, ‘Baby I Need You’ and ‘Only To You’ are gentler affairs though ‘If’ lacks the focus of the others. The album’s completed with a remix of ‘Come Over’ and two on ‘Natural Vibe’. In truth we could do without its house tweak – methinks its pace detracts for the song’s intention, but it doesn’t detract too much from a fine indie soul set that’s currently available via the usual internet outlets.
(BB) 4/5