WADZ: So Smooth, The Funk Album (Label: Smooth Swing Records)

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WADZ: So Smooth, The Funk Album

Wadz is a Paris-based muso who began his musical odyssey in thrall to hip-hop. That genre’s limitations soon became apparent to young Wadz and the treasure trove that is soul’s glorious past soon won him over. It was in the music of people like Luther Vandross, Starpoint, Leon Sylvers, Howard Johnson, Melba Moore and Kashif that Wadz felt most at home and so he set about making a new soul music that was rooted in the heritage of the 80s. The result is this wonderful 15 tracker that will captivate anyone who loves groove-based soul. Wadz has perfectly captured the sound of the 80s but his album is not a pastiche or a simple copy. Each track has its own vitality and freshness bringing instant appeal. This is partly achieved through using a team of exciting and committed vocalists who Wadz has allowed to create their own lyrics for the music he’s created. This team effort – a mutual talent investment, if you like – creates the excellence. It’s difficult to cherry pick highlights because every track is so damn good but the opener, ‘Don’t Worry’ will give you the flavour. Built around a crunching bass line, the beats are tight, the melody is a delight and Enois Scroggins and Peach Salthouse handle the vocal perfectly. The song gets an extended mix towards the end. The album’s title cut appears in three versions. Sung by Ashanti Munir, ‘So Smooth’ has all the appeal of Loose Ends’ ‘Hangin’ On A String’… and that should be enough recommendation to investigate. For variety, a couple of the cuts (‘A La One Again Funky’ and ‘Noir Et Or’) are sung in French while ‘Time’ and ‘Boy Toy’ have an almost electro-soul feel to them. One little word of warning though – don’t be confused by the album’s title. “Smooth” doesn’t here mean bland and colourless and the “Funk” in the subtitle isn’t the hard-edged funk of say James Brown or Dyke and the Blazers. The closest thing to classic funk is the sparse ‘Attack’. Here, that sparseness, the loose-limbed bass line and the vocoder recall Cameo and it’s another great track amongst many. Strange, how European music makers have the uncanny knack of creating modern soul with roots firmly in the past. Till now the Cool Million duo have been the recent masters. Here Wadz proves that what they can achieve, he can too. This album is one of the great modern soul sets of 2010. Phil Driver of Soul Unsigned Records (a man who knows a thing or two about indie soul) called this set “awesome!” I can’t add anymore.
(BB) 5/5