Conya Doss - Blu Transition (2010)

Conya Doss
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On her last album, the SoulTracks Award-winning 2008 Still, Conya Doss displayed her skill at drenching nu-soul music with a classic soul sensibility. She's always had a way with a lyric, while her delivery made honesty and earnestness sound sensual. I thought that Still would be Doss' breakthrough album. It contained several tracks that could have (should have) been embraced by a variety of radio formats. "Something 2 Nite," "It's Over" and "How About Us" were all suitable for youth orientated R&B/hip-hop stations. "Common Ground," "Come Over" and "Let Me Love You" would have fit in nicely on urban adult stations. Sadly, while the underground soul music rightly celebrated the disc, Still failed to garner the kind of general recognition that the album deserved.

On her last album, the SoulTracks Award-winning 2008 Still, Conya Doss displayed her skill at drenching nu-soul music with a classic soul sensibility. She's always had a way with a lyric, while her delivery made honesty and earnestness sound sensual. I thought that Still would be Doss' breakthrough album. It contained several tracks that could have (should have) been embraced by a variety of radio formats. "Something 2 Nite," "It's Over" and "How About Us" were all suitable for youth orientated R&B/hip-hop stations. "Common Ground," "Come Over" and "Let Me Love You" would have fit in nicely on urban adult stations. Sadly, while the underground soul music rightly celebrated the disc, Still failed to garner the kind of general recognition that the album deserved.

Doss is an educator - she works as a teacher in Cleveland when she's not entertaining us - so she's not trained to be cowed or discouraged that some of her students would rather pass notes or sleep than hear heartfelt and life-affirming lessons. But, it is her largely adult audience that appreciates her body of work, and that audience will appreciate her triumphant return with her new album, Blu Transition.

Blu Transition differs from Still in that the latest work has a more classic sound. Doss appears to have drawn her inspiration from that rawer and more soulful sound that listeners heard on the radio in the 1970s. The modern flourishes found in youth-oriented R&B and hip-hop won't be heard on Blu Transition. Instead, Doss opts for a sound that owes a great deal to that time when instrumentalists and vocalists met in the same studio and recorded music that was played on those old analog instruments. That gives Blu Transition a big sound.

And, while there are some differences between Blu Transition and Doss's earlier work, there are some big similarities. Both are distinguished by their honesty. Doss always does what any singer who addresses the affairs of the heart should try to do: let the listener in. When she sings about fully making a commitment to her soul mate - as she does on "All In You" - the listener willingly suspends disbelief. When Doss expresses exasperation with an immature and indecisive suitor on the funky up-tempo track "You're Not Ready," the listener feels her frustration. The disc features several tracks that could be embraced by mainstream radio if they had the mind to listen, most notably "Wi Fi," a great song that recreates the feeling that fellow Ohioan Roger Troutman evoked on his song "Computer Love."

Blu Transition is a record for the longtime Doss fans. And, her long track record of making quality music has caused that mostly underground fan club to continue growing.  And that growth will likely continue with Doss's own musical growth, as Blu Transition constitutes yet another impressive effort by one of alternative soul's most dependable artists. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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