SHAILA PROSPERE; Back To Life (Rhythm Records)

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Shaila Prospere is an English soulstress who impressed with her first long player, ‘In My Shoes’. For whatever reason the album never really took off but with her soulful voice Ms P was never out of work doing sessions and BVs. Earlier this year she enjoyed a higher profile via a couple of tasty singles – ‘Let Me Be Yours’ and ‘Family’. In both original and remix formats the tunes got plenty of plays with commentators drawing comparisons to Beverley Knight. Nowt wrong with that analogy and easy to hear why it was made. Both tunes had that peculiar 80s UK feel though they also bristled with contemporary flavours.

The good news is that Shaila has just released a new album and it’s stuffed with similar soulful sounds. ‘Let Me Be Yours’ and ‘Family’ are there, of course and as bonuses you get the Soul Syndicate mixes of ’em too. The mix on ‘Let Me be Yours’ is particularly strong with samples, we think, of Cheryl Lynn’s ‘Encore’ and Curtis Hairston’s ‘Morning After’. Sample spotters will also recognize the riff from Jones Girls classic ‘Who Can I Run To’ on the album title track, a lazy, rolling groove. There’s the same feel on the set’s most imaginative track – the cover of Sister Sledge’s ‘Thinking Of You’ … laid back, lovely and very different to the familiar original. The album’s other key slower moments are ‘That Place’, ‘Don’t Ask Me To Stay’ and ‘Beautiful’.

But we think the modern soul crowd will be more impressed with the dancers and with UK soul veterans Everis Pellius and Phil ‘Phillo’ Nugent at the helm, there are plenty of them. We’ve already highlighted the two singles; then there’s stuff like ‘Love Like This’ and the very catchy ‘Break The Chain’ while one of those ballads, ‘That Place’ also comes, thanks to Soul Syndicate, in a soulful house mix. .. impressive.

Indeed, overall this is an impressive UK soul collection – offering quality in all departments.

(BB) 4/5