Sola Rosa: Chasing the Sun (Kartel/Border/digital outlets)

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Sola Rosa: Chasing the Sun (Kartel/Border/digital outlets)
There's a swag of retro-soul around right now: from Troy Kingi repurposing and sometimes replicating the styles of the late Sixties/early Seventies on his album The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, through the sensitive/falsetto-ache of many young pretenders who never offend on an innocuous Spotify playlist (but don't make a distinctive impression).

And now the long-running Sola Rosa (Andrew Spraggon) here getting authentically down'n'slinky or up on the dancefloor with an album which looks back into the soul/funk/smoove groove idiom.

Sola/Spraggon not only has considerable prior form and class in this territory, but with a guest cast around his supple beats, songs and settings – from wah-wah Soul Train-grooves (Searching for Love with British reggae singer Kiko Bun) and mirrorball dance (Something Good with hot Australian soul singer Thandi Phoenix who appears also on the George Benson-mood and affirmative message of Shine On) through socio-political urban urgency (the edgy and deftly dramatic For the Mighty Dollar featuring the estimable Kevin Mark Trail and Sharlene Hector) – this is a fine collection where the various tropes are re-shaped into a coherent and yet diverse package.

There's sharp, dark old school, urban soul-funk here (You Don't Know with UK singer Josh Barry and the precision horns of Mike Booth, Haydn Godfrey and Andrew Hall), slippery soul-jazz (Runnin' with Shach Seven and Hector, No Idea with Jerome Thomas), chill-out cosmic soul (the title track) and the late-nite low-lights sensual groove of Star to Star (with Troy Kingi and an astute lyric) and My Love with Eva Lazarus.

There is a rare professional, disciplined, empathetic cast of backing players here behind the slippin'-in singers, such as guitarists Jeremy Toy and Dixon Nacey, drummer Julien Dyne, bassist Matt Short and others.

But a special mention – because Ron (Anchorman) Burgundy amusingly debased the idiom – of Lewis McCallum on jazz flute.

It's telling that a number of these songs have been released as singles already because this feels like just such a collection: discrete songs which stand on their own terms.

Chasing the Sun knows where it wants to be in terms of the styles explored and in some ways because of the familiarity of the soul/funk genres, this is an easy listening album.

And that is meant as a compliment, as in easy to listen to.

Chasing the Sun is available on double vinyl.



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