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

(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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