REGINA BELLE: The Day Life Began (Shanachie)

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Good things come to those who wait and patient soul seekers will be delighted that after a long fifteen years, the lovely Regina Belle has at last released a full and proper soul album…. ‘The Day Life Began’.

Ms Belle, of course, won our hearts way back in 1987 with hits like ‘Show Me The Way’. Through the 90s she enjoyed a high profile with Disney’s ‘A Whole New World’; in the noughties she produced more scintillating soul before turning to jazz and gospel.

Now working with producers “The Heavyweights” (Jamie Jones and Jack Kugell), Regina has returned to where she started and reminds us of that fact via the album’s big cover… her version of Phyllis Hyman’s ‘You Know How To Love Me’. In the atmospheric opening she enthuses “let’s go back” before launching into a respectful version of a tune that helped define an era!

The Lucas/Mtume song is a great party item and there’s plenty more in the set’s other 9 cuts, amongst them the funky ‘He’s Alright’, the jerky ‘Live 4 You’ and the energised ‘Open Our Eyes’. But Regina really excels on the ballads and there are some gems here. ‘You Saw The Good In Me’ remind us why we loved Ms B back in the day and in the absence of anything new from Anita Ward, try the gorgeous ‘Imperfect Love’… proper grown up soul music. But then we could say the same for the sumptuous title track, the low key ‘You’, the jazzier ‘A Night Of Love’ and the acoustic-flavoured ‘Be Careful Out There’.

Yep, good things come to those who wait and with Regina Belle’s ‘The Day Life Began’ the wait was sure worth it!

(BB) 4/5