Chidi - Exhale (2013)

Chidi
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Exhale, the latest CD by South-London born singer Chidi (pronounced Chi-dee), is one so aptly-titled, it no doubt encapsulates the feelings of independent artists everywhere who finally see their artistic vision come to fruition despite the absence ofthe all-important financial muscle of a large corporation to promote and distribute their music. Being self-funded is never easy and artists often find themselves taking on numerous roles and working twice as hard for their music to be heard. But Independent status also brings the added luxury of retaining creative control without having to deal with major label interference, and artists are now afforded more opportunities than ever before. Thanks to digital outlets such as iTunes and interactive websites including ReverbNation, indie-artist can gain a solid and steadfast fan base from a grass roots level that is mutually beneficial.

Exhale, the latest CD by South-London born singer Chidi (pronounced Chi-dee), is one so aptly-titled, it no doubt encapsulates the feelings of independent artists everywhere who finally see their artistic vision come to fruition despite the absence ofthe all-important financial muscle of a large corporation to promote and distribute their music. Being self-funded is never easy and artists often find themselves taking on numerous roles and working twice as hard for their music to be heard. But Independent status also brings the added luxury of retaining creative control without having to deal with major label interference, and artists are now afforded more opportunities than ever before. Thanks to digital outlets such as iTunes and interactive websites including ReverbNation, indie-artist can gain a solid and steadfast fan base from a grass roots level that is mutually beneficial. Not only does direct contact with fans help create sales for a project that is often a labour-of-love, fans also feel they have played a small role in supporting artists, who will hopefully go on to bigger things. Chidi is one such singer and songwriter who deserves to be heard by a much wider audience.

Influenced by the classic soul of yesteryear, Chidi was almost twenty when she started singing in her local church choir. Following a stint with the all-female gospel group Redeemed, she joined the ranks of the highly-acclaimed London Community Gospel Choir and toured Europe supporting gospel stars such as Kirk Franklin and Kim Burrell. Eventually finding work as a session singer, Chidi has shared the same stage with some of soul music’s most legendary performers, including James Brown and Stevie Wonder and modern artists like Angie Stone and Calvin Richardson. In 2009 Chidi released her self-written and co-produced debut album, Unrehearsed, on her own Selah label.This sublime release included the underground hit ”Wrong Again” and the beautiful and mesmeric, “So Naturally.” Garnering favourable reviews from the UK soul press and radio, Chidi’s classy and uplifting vocal style was compared to the likes of Sunshine Anderson and Jill Scott.

Perfectly showcasing her creamily-textured and melodious voice, which only subtly hints at the powerful lungs that simmer within, Exhale breathes fluidly throughout. With her mellifluous phrasing, Chidi seamlessly intertwines the sounds of R&B Jazz, Pop, and even a touch of rock with the leadoff single, “I want Love.” But with its “Mustang Sally” retro-styling’s, the urgent and insistent groove of “I Want Love” sound slightly out of place from the remainder of tasty tracks that make up Exhale.

In addition toboasting five producers, including former Beverley Knight cohort, Neville Thomas, Exhale also features a duet with fellow Brit soul singer, Elisha La’verne, on the mournful and gospel-tinged “Heavy.” With much to enjoy, listeners can take their pick. From the cooingly persuasive and radio-friendly “Leading me On,” with its water-cool piano touches, and the slinky-vibe of the head-swaying “Heart is Beating,” that brings to mind the sexy vocal styling of the late Teena Marie, to the throbbing and liquid-filled horn intro of “Good 4 Me.” Chidi’s voice, alongside the backing singers, drips seductively throughout like a sticky toffee apple, baring all the hallmarks of a modern R&B classic.

Chidi has certainly dug deep with this latest offering and has more than delivered a musical opus that is both cohesive and deeply satisfying, and one that hopefully will heighten her profile on both sides of the Atlantic. Highly Recommended.

By Garry Moran

 
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