THE FLOACIST; Presents Floetic Soul (Shanachie)

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UK duo Floetry were one of the runaway soul success stories of the early 2000s, down – in not little part – to their quite unique sound – a peculiar blend of vocals and spoken word. In 2007 Natalie Stewart who handled those ethereal spoken word parts broke away from singer Marsha Ambrosius to go solo as The Floacist and after a few singles and notable collaborations, this is her debut set and what a lovely piece of work it is.

From the opening ‘Breathe’ (a gentle, yet insistent groove) through to the closing ‘Alright Then’ (a finger-clinking slinker) there isn’t a dud here and though spoken word albums can weary with sameness, Natalie ensures interest throughout by using a variety of producers and collaborating with some stellar names. Indeed it’s one of those collaborations that’s proving to be the LP’s real highlight. ‘Keep It Going ‘is a duet with Raheem DeVaughn and it’s simply superb. All I need to say is that it’s what proper “modern” soul music should be all about. The other collaborators are Musiq Soulchild who features on the other-worldy ‘Forever’ and Lalah Hathaway who adds her considerable talents to the LP’s most experimental track, ‘Come Over’. 

Other highlights include the gentle and languid ‘Need You’ which features some lovely trombone from Jeff Bradshaw and the equally gentle ‘Overtime’ on which producer J R Hutson (Leroy’s son, natch) works wonders with what is basically a drum and bass rhythm pattern. Hutson’s also at the helm for ‘You’ – another winner, but hey – we’ve already told you that all the tunes are winners.

It’s hard to describe the album’s soundscape. Clearly it has elements of the old Floetry sound, but also think, maybe, of a less aggressive Ursula Rucker, a mores sensual Jill Scott and even, a better focused Erykah Badu… that may get you nearly there. You will, though, need to listen yourself.

(BB) 4/5