JAE B: Shake It Up (Label: Nothwest Records)

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JAE B: Shake It Up

Despite diligent internet searches, I know little about Jae B save that his surname is Barnes and that this pleasant old school soul album goes out on Northwest Records – which despite its name, is based down in Atlanta. That location should give you a clue to Jae B’s sound – yep, you’re right – ‘Shake It Up’ is a set of classic Southern soul… though I think I should add the word “almost” to “classic” and “Southern”, ‘cos with the budgetary restraints that inevitably go with the whole indie/self-produced music scene there are elements that are missing. That said Jae has a great soul voice that will please fans of people like Johnnie Taylor and Tyrone Davis – gritty with a touch of sweetness about it and when he works a good song the result is very satisfying. The opening cuts – ‘Whip That Thing’ and the lazier ‘Excuse Me’ – are both good tunes and soul purists will relish their arcane simplicity. The album’s title cut is a little different. ‘Shake It Up’ has that loose feel of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It up’ and it moves along at a great modern soul dance pace – though the modern soul crew won’t rate the unnecessary rap from someone called Rodriguez. The steppers can do their thing on ‘Jump And Slide’ while ‘Born Into The Blues’ is obviously a blues as is the swift 12 bar basic ‘Big Girls’ (hear the influence of Little Milton on both). Unsurprisingly the LP’s two best cuts are the covers. First up there’s a nicely laidback version of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Let’s Do It Again’ then there’s ‘Walk Away With Me’ a wonderful country soul tune penned by the great George Jackson. On it Jae B certainly lives up to the billing he gives himself on the CD’s cover – “The Soul Man”. If you want to investigate more his web site – www.jaebthesoulman.com is under construction, though CD Baby will give you the flavour. The album is currently being promoted in the UK by Mike Ward’s Sheffield Inda Soul promotions.
(BB) 3/5