L. Michael Gipson's "Cornfed Corner": Alice Russell and more

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    (May 17, 2008) The thing about being a long time music lover is that after about 20 or so years of music buying, one can get cynical and close-minded to new music. Some even get forgetful or dismissive of the old songs and artists that once was the soundtrack of their days. Commercial radio is partially to blame, but so is the busyness that consumes our lives, placing good music further and further out of reach. No time for digging in the crates and rummaging through used CD stores for you, real or virtual. Besides, you tell yourself, anything that's worth hearing, you've probably already heard or it's going to require too much work to find. Well, if there's anything I've learned in my 18-month tenure with SoulTracks, it's that there is always a good song, EP, album or artist waiting to be discovered and loved. I'm the grandchild of musicians, the child of a singer, and the step-child of a DJ whose vinyl albums took over whole living room walls. Yet, over thirty years later, I'm still discovering beautiful sounds I'm aching to share with others. As much as I love to eat fats and carbs, music is my food and I love to share my food with others who can enjoy it. So, here on my corner, I'll regularly dish you up a list of music, music scene notes and the occasional interview to help feed your interests and your soul. All you've got to do it pull up a chair. Welcome, family! -L. Michael "Cornfed" Gipson

    Track Love: 12 "New" EPs, Singles and Album Cuts Worth Your Gas Money

    Track/EP

    Artist/Duo/Group

    Project

    Available To Buy?

    Genre(s)

    If You Really Love Me

    Mikelyn Roderick (feat. Rahsaan Patterson)

    Soul Suite: It Takes Two

    Yes

    Soul

    People Grinnin' In Your Face

    Ruthie Foster

    The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster

    Yes

    Soul-Folk

    Black Butta

    Beverly Knight

    Music City Soul

    Yes

    Soul

    Hurry On Now (Radio Mix)

    Alice Russell

    Hurry On Now (Maxi-Single)

    Yes

    Retro-Soul

    Come When You Call

    Rogiers

    Life & Music: All Of It

    Yes

    Soul/Neo-Soul

    Best For Last

    Adele

    19

    Yes

    Acoustic Soul

    Let Me Know

    Angela Johnson

    (feat. Eric Roberson)

    Angela Johnson Presents: A Woman's Touch

    Yes

    Retro-Soul/Pop/

    This Is

    Lizz Wright

    The Orchard

    Yes

    Soul-Folk

    Will I Ever

    Lyfe Jennings

    Lyfe Change

    Yes

    R&B

    Watch Out

    Tawiah

    In Jodi's Bedroom

    Yes

    Soul

    The Way That I Love You

    Ashanti

    The Way That I Love You (Single)

    Yes

    R&B

    Evil Woman

    Marcell and the Truth

    Hopes Too High

    Yes

    Soul

    Cornfed Discoveries: Alice Russell

    If American Idol has taught us anything over the years it's that all good singers can't sing every kind of song. The demands of rock are different from those of jazz. A 4x4 ballad that generously gives singers room to think as they play, can be unforgiving to that same vocalist on a breathless 2x4 dance jam requiring split second timing and a flawless sense of rhythm. Everyone ain't able. But, every once in a while you find that special voice a producer can place in any musical composition and magically that voice finds a way to sing as if it were born for that music. Alice Russell has such a voice. Whether on a retro-50s cut, a bouncy electronica groove, or a simple jazz arrangement, Alice Russell leaves you in awe. With a voice that can rock it ala Tina, belt like Ruth Brown, or slow drag it like Phyllis, Russell's agile voice can evoke comparisons to everyone and no one.

    At times, the chameleon act does Alice a disservice. By not consistently displaying a signature sound, listeners may not always know an Alice Russell tune when they hear it. It probably doesn't help that Russell's better known as a remix and dance producer's artist than as a solo artist with her own releases. She's showcased on various TM Juke, Unforscene, The Bamboos, and most notably, Quantic Soul Orchestra projects. I suppose these may be some of the reasons why she's not a better known quantity in the soul music scene. Her obscurity is undeserving. Alice Russell is a fine talent deserving off an audience beyond her current lounge and electronica devotees.

    Now that Starbucks has been hyping her 2005 CD, My Favourite Letters, that may all be about to change. They've tapped Letters as Starbucks worthy on their iTunes page, giving Alice a much needed spotlight. For its part, Letters does have some incredible moments: the Wonder-esque "All Else Can Wait," the relaxed bossa nova of "I'm Just Here," and the Western showdown "Mirror, Mirror On The Wolf-Tell The Story Right" are just a few among them.

    As much as I appreciate the original versions on Letters, Russell tops herself on a few of the retro, lounge and electronic remixes found on her latest release Under The Munka Moon. More than a remix project, Under The Munka Moon, sports some fine new music (the jazz ballad "Sweet Is The Air" is particularly nice) as well as some live and acoustic cuts. "Hurry Up Now (Radio Version)" gets my vote as Russell's hottest track to date, but to hear this caliente version you have to cop it off the single on iTunes. Ms. Alice's assured take on a Muscle Shoals inspired version of Donny Hathaway's "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" also impresses. If you want to check out Alice Russell's voice without all the bells and whistles to get a lil' taste of what I'm talking about, check out the acapella "Get Ready In The Morning (Song In The Bath) on Under The Munka Moon. After just one listen, see if you don't become a fan.


    Cornfed Misc. Notes:

    ♦ In the Singersroom, a Jive-free Syleena Johnson waxes eloquent about her new baby, label, basketball player husband and that much anticipated September release, Chapter 4: Labor Pains (http://www.singersroom.com/interview/artist-v-105.asp).

    ♦ The Supreme Mary Wilson confides in the Independent that it was her sequins that really sold the civil rights movement (WTF?) (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/mary-wilson-in-the-name-of-love-827634.html).

    ♦ Blogger Clay Cane cops a hilariously suggestive tape of shockjock Wendy William's interviewing music industry insider Terrance Dean, on his tell all book Hiding In Hip Hop(http://claycane.blogspot.com/2008/05/terrance-dean-interview-on-wendy.html).

    ♦ The New Yorker takes it upon itself to name the 100 essential jazz albums any true collector must possess. Right when you think you've arrived as a bonafide aficionado, here comes some jerk to tell you "not so much"; where's my damn debit card, shoot (http://www.newyorker.com/online/2008/05/19/080519on_onlineonly_remnick?currentPage=all).

    Back Dates: 12 of Yesterday's Hits, B-Sides, and Obscure Jams

    Track/EP

    Artist/Duo/Group

    Project

    Available To Buy?

    Genre(s)

    Feeding Off The Love of The Land

    Stevie Wonder

    Gotta Be

    (Maxi-Single Import/Jungle Fever Soundtrack)

    Import or iTunes (bundled)

    Soul

    Blues In The Night

    Eva Cassidy

    Eva By Heart

    Yes

    Soul/Jazz

    My World

    Olu

    Soulcatcher

    Yes

    Soul/Neo-Soul

    My Cherie Amour

    Q (feat. Leon Ware, Minnie Ripperton, Paulette McWilliams)

    Mellow Madness

    Import

    Soul/Jazz

    Softly, Softly

    Sweetback

    (feat. Maxwell)

    Sweetback

    Yes

    R&B/Neo-Soul

    One More Time

    Dianne Reeves

    Art & Survival

    Yes

    Jazz

    Everything I Feel

    D'Atra Hicks

    D'Atra Hicks

    Yes

    Soul

    It's Gonna Rain

    Kelly Price

    Life: The Soundtrack

    Yes

    Soul

    Rockin' After Midnight

    Marvin Gaye

    Sexual Healing

    Yes

    R&B

    All You Do Is Dial

    Heatwave

    Too Hot To Handle

    Yes

    R&B

    You Get The Best From Me

    One Way (feat. Alicia Myers)

    The Best of One Way: Al Hudson and Alicia Myers

    Yes

    R&B

    Queen of My Soul

    Average White Band

    Soul Searching

    Yes

    R&B/Soul

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    L. Michael Gipson is a cultural critic, music journalist and a lover of all underdogs; poverty becomes him.

     

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