If you’ve been listening to soul radio lately (not too many stations out there are there?!!!), you’re bound to have heard music from this particular album. Tracks from ‘The Rebirth of Marvin’ are being played out all over the place and rightly so! The long player offers everything the discerning soul listener loves; that’s to say a contemporary take on the genre but with a generous nod to heritage and retro sounds and when those sounds echo a certain Marvin Gaye you have a recipe for success.
The singer here, October London (real name Samuel Erskine – October is his birth month and we’re told he loves swinging London!) impressed the soul world with his 2016 “presented by Snoop Dogg,” album ‘Color Blind Love’. The album was stuffed with our man’s unique take on contemporary soul/R&B often layered over classic soul tunes like the Originals’ ‘Baby I’m For Real’ and Gladys Knight and the Pips’ equally gorgeous ‘Since I Lost You’. Since then a few more singles and regular collaborations with his mentor Snoop Dogg. Mr London was present on Snoop’s last long player, most notably on the MPG-flavoured ‘Mullholland Drive’.
The song is one of the highlights on this ‘Rebirth’ set but to pick specific highlights would be churlish. Each of the 11 tracks has something rather special to offer, like the set’s lead single… ‘Back To Your Place’ which echoed Marvin’s ‘Distant Lover’. Then again, try ‘Lover’s Interlude’ – gentle and insinuating and based (possibly?) on ‘Mercy, Mercy Me’. And that’s exactly what you’ll find yourself doing here – trying to work out which Gaye song was the inspiration for each particular track. The cuckoo in the nest is the sensual closer, ‘You Look Better’ which is much more Barry White than Marvin Gaye – maybe not a bad thing for Valentines Day. It’s a wonderful finale to what, by common consent, is the year’s best soul album so far.
Genre critics might suggest that in places, ‘Rebirth’ is a little cheesy – as on the aforementioned ‘You Look Better’ where the lyric rhymes “door” with “Christian Dior”. They might also suggest that there’s little mileage in resurrecting old sounds but when it’s done like this (with respect and love) the music is magnificent. So yes, for sure, best album of the year so far and I doubt if many later ones will match its consistent quality.
Thanks to Mark Turner @ https://soulstrutter.blogspot.com/ for sourcing this.