SAM BOSTIC: Soul Supreme (Label: Expansion)

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SAM BOSTIC: Soul Supreme

Sam Bostic works out of California and the advance buzz on ‘Soul Supreme’ is such that the modern soul crowd are already hailing it as one of the year’s best albums. In some ways this is surprising since Bostic earned his stripes as a hip-hop producer working most notably with Tupac. Equally, the album includes rap sequences – musical anathema to died-in-the-wool modern soulsters. But my guess is that they’re prepared to lay aside their illogical prejudices to luxuriate in the overriding retro grooves of the collection. We’re told that though Sam earns his corn in hip-hop, his first musical love is good, old-fashioned soul, with Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and the whole Philly sweet soul thing amongst his favourites. Dip in then and you’ll hear flavours of them all and to prove his real allegiances, the man even offers a straight cover of the Stylistics’ ‘Break Up To Make Up’ … in fact he includes it twice, and both short and long versions are totally respectful to the original. Still on the sweet soul, harmony kick, ‘Zodiac Sign’ is a wonderful Delfonics’ pastiche. A collaboration with the ubiquitous Raphael Saadiq, Bostic’s string arrangement faithfully echoes the work of Thom Bell and if the label had read “Philly Groove” I wouldn’t have been in the least bit surprised. Elsewhere the LP’s album’s main reference point is Curtis Mayfield. ‘Get Away’, ‘Luv Game’ and ‘This Is Your Song’ could all be outtakes from the gentle genius’ mould-breaking first solo set, though Mr. Franchyze’s rap input wouldn’t have been there back in the day. ‘Still Missing You’ is another goodie – embellished with some lovely brass figures, while ‘1 More Try’ also has a real retro feel to it. The most modern sounding cut is ‘Take Our Time’. Here the beats and vocoded vocal give it the feel of a contemporary, chart-bound R&B ballad from someone like Ne-Yo. That said, it’s not out of place, ‘cos though ‘Soul Supreme’ is generally retro in its feel, Bostic’s background sees him imbuing it all with a contemporary gloss and slickness. Maybe this is the future of modern soul. Whereas, say, the Cool Million people faithfully recreate the sounds of the past, Bostic takes those sounds and puts his own spin on them… in much the same way as Raphael Saadiq did on ‘The Way I See It’ … interesting.
(BB) 4/5