OTIS JACKSON: The Art Of Love (Label: Crate Digga)

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Here’s a real indie soul oddity that was originally released in 2006. It came out of Las Vegas where smooth soul crooner Otis Jackson was working the lounges and, I guess, flogging the album in the intermissions. The man’s now relocated to Houston and has decided to re-promote the set with the addition of four, totally out of context hip-hop tracks featuring his sons – Madlib and the bizarrely named Oh No The Disrupt (honest). They’re remixes of two of Otis’ own songs and, in truth, we can forget these four additions right away. They rank with the worst tracks I’ve heard this year and feature the most bizarre Sooty and Sweep style Casio keyboards you’ll ever encounter. That leaves us with the original 9 cuts and though Otis Jackson has a decent voice – think Walter Jackson meets Jon Lucien by way of Barry White – the material doesn’t come up to scratch. As with a lot of indie soul, the artist has generated his own material and it’s no coincidence that the best cut is the one non-original song – H B Barnum’s ‘We Can Work It Out’. There’s some nice brass work in there but it just needs a good kick up the backside to make it work properly. Indeed that’s the LP’s inherent fault. It all sounds laboured. The opener, ‘Look What You’ve Done To My Heart’ is a good example. It starts optimistically but then gets mired down and even when there’s an attempt to get funky – as on ‘With You On My Side’ – it just doesn’t happen. With better material and a producer who’s prepared to criticise constructively maybe Jackson might come up with something, but at the moment this is just for the inveterate indie soul collectors who put rarity and obscurity before class and quality.
(BB) 2/5