Chris Jasper - Inspired (2013)

Chris Jasper
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Golden-voiced Chris Jasper has long been a firm favorite of discerning soul fans. Having studied music composition at the famed Juilliard School of music, Jasper joined the ranks of the pioneering soul outfit, The Isley Brothers, making his first appearance on their 1969 breakthrough album, It’s Our Thing. This highly-influential album brought the group instant pop success and included the self-affirming and million selling, “It’s your Thing,” a muscular and horn-drenched soul work-out that not only secured the group royal status within R&B circles, but also proved a watershed moment that ushered in the burgeoning funk movement.

Golden-voiced Chris Jasper has long been a firm favorite of discerning soul fans. Having studied music composition at the famed Juilliard School of music, Jasper joined the ranks of the pioneering soul outfit, The Isley Brothers, making his first appearance on their 1969 breakthrough album, It’s Our Thing. This highly-influential album brought the group instant pop success and included the self-affirming and million selling, “It’s your Thing,” a muscular and horn-drenched soul work-out that not only secured the group royal status within R&B circles, but also proved a watershed moment that ushered in the burgeoning funk movement.

Officially added to the group in 1973 alongside younger brother-in-laws, Ernie and Marvin Isley, the ultra-talented Jasper next appeared on the aptly-titled album 3 + 3 that featured the rock hit, “That Lady,” and immediately established himself within the group as a pivotal member. Jasper incorporated his signature keyboard touches to the group’s eclectic sound and wrote classic hits such as “For The Love of You” and the slinky and sexy “Between the Sheets.” Entering into their most productive and creative period, the 6-man Isleys ruled he charts for a decade with several gold and platinum albums and an array of hits including the electrifying, spellbinding cover of Seals and Croft’s folk hit, “Summer Breeze,” the universally popular “Harvest for The World” and the rousing, electric “Fight the Power,” before monetary issues forced them to split. Breaking away, Jasper joined forces with the younger members, Ernie and Marvin, to form the splinter trio, Isley/ Jasper/ Isley, scoring international success with the buoyant and anthemic “Caravan of Love.” With his soaring voice and the song’s partial-biblical lyricism, this enduring eighties soul classic subtly foretold Jasper’s musical direction. After two I/J/I albums, Jasper became a solo artist who incorporated his religious beliefs into his music on a succession of albums for his own Gold City music label; the latest is 2013’s Inspired, a highly enjoyable ten track album that will certainly appeal to his many fans.  

A born again Christian, Jasper sings about the joys and concerns that affect him the most with warm and soothing tones that engage rather than alienate the listener, thus allowing him the opportunity to convey his messages in a clear an unassuming way. “There’s a new world where the blind see...” he subtlety croons with understated simplicity on the melodic and creamy textured “In my Dreams,” a gorgeous and dreamy ballad that not only makes you feel as if you have stumbled upon a utopian world of soothing calmness. Occasionally recalling his Isley Brothers roots, Jasper funks and struts his way through the elasticated and chugging “Keep Believing,” a stoic-voiced plea to younger generations  urging them to “put down the guns and pick up the books,“  whilst the catchy “Someone” recalls The Isleys’ anthemic “Harvest for the World” and The Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes.”

With Inspired, Jasper has delivered an album that is both classic and modern, filling it with smooth grooves that glide effortlessly alongside some of the more mildly up-tempo tracks.  With his subtle vocal nuances and idealistic visions of a world filled with harmony and togetherness, Jasper’s Inspired makes for an understated yet arresting release that is most worthy of attention. Highly recommended

By Garry Moran

 
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