Take 5 Friday: Katy B + Fly Moon Royalty + Sophie Ellis-Bextor + Daley + Liv Warfield [Album Edition]

Friday, February 21, 2014

Recent long players and short players in current heavy rotation....

Katy B - Little Red
If you didn't get the message the first time on 2011's On A Mission, Little Red has Katy B once again reviving British Garage for a new generation and this time she cranks it up a couple of more decibels. Featuring Jessie Ware and Sampha in guest spots, Little Red is strictly dancefloor, with strobe light standouts such as "I Like It", "5AM", "Tumbling Down", and "Next Thing". Impressive as well are the tender moments where Katy B goes for the cool down on tracks like "Crying For No Reason" and "Still" that allow her vocals to peek out and prove that being a 21st Century dance diva is not her only strong suit. What would have made Little Red even better is the addition of last year's summer anthem, "What Love Is Made Of" and her her stripped-down, impressively sung take on Sweet Female Attitude's 2000 Garage classic, "Flowers", but that is just one small grouse. [Purchase]

Fly Moon Royalty - Unfinished Business
Shame that I haven't talked about Fly Moon Royalty on this blog, but let me rectify that as their brand-new EP is the perfect first hand-shake into the funk-rock realm of this Seattle duo. Unfinished Business is for those who adore '70s funk (think of Betty Davis 'steppin' in her I. Miller Shoes') and want to hear it scrambled into elements of '90s hip-hop and Seattle's grunge rock history. Dangerously short it is at just six tracks, but what a rush it is with advisory listens "Piece Of Me", "No Pain No Gain" and single,"Step Hard". [Stream + Purchase]

Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust 
Sophie Ellis-Bextor has always been the most ladylike of modern disco queens, yet Wanderlust takes a spin on the 180 radius and takes the lady from dancefloor to an champagne swirl of a soiree. It's a reach back to the art rock-pop she exuded during her tenure with Theaudience, and producer Ed Harcourt brings back that vibe with highlights like "Until The Stars Collide", "Runaway Dreamer", "13 Little Dolls", and lead single, "Young Blood" that allow her rich tone to flutter around string-laden chamber pop. I will be honest, I do miss her singing atop dizzying electro-disco, so maybe I'm the uncultured swine who is adjusting poorly to this u-turn, but Sophie Ellis-Bextor's turn into the symphonic baroque during a time where synth-fused pop and soul is in vogue is something worth applauding her for. [Purchase]

Daley - Days & Nights
After releasing two impressive EPs, Daley's long-anticipated debut Days & Nights comes at a slight disappointment with songs that seem to merge in a languid suite of sameness and songs that we've heard before ("Blame The World" and his wonderful duet with Marsha Ambrosius "Alone Together") sticking out as reminders of better crafted material. Still with some kinks, I do appreciate the nocturnal moves the album makes, and how it dresses up contemporary R&B in a spiffier and more romantic motif, the latter being one of the key elements that has gone MIA in today's rhythmic blues. Not cloying or cringe-worthy in the slightest is Daley's loverman stance, especially on tracks like "Time Travel" and "Be". Pharrell saves the day (as usual) with highlight "Look Up" and his wonderful reading of Joan Armatrading's 1976 classic, "Love & Affection" is met with nuanced class that proves that his vocalizing capabilities are beyond his peers. [Purchase]

Liv Warfield - The Unexpected
After an impressive appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last month, Liv Warfield is on the war path to having one of the great albums of 2014 with her purple-tinged funk thing-a-ma-jig. Yes, purple is the code word here as the New Power Generation dame receives a little help from Prince, whom crafts the snarling sass of "Why Do You Lie?". More brass-laced rock-funk testimonials that put her earth-shattering vocals on full display are also snatched out of the hat as "BlackBird" and "Lena Blue" are top rebel yells for me along with sizzling slow downs like "Stay (Soul Lifted)" and "Come Back" where she takes thing to the pulpits of truth. For round #2, the unexpected is definitely to be expected as Madame Warfield isn't playing around one iota. [Stream + Purchase]

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