Marcell and the Truth - Hopes Too High (2006)

Marcell and the Truth
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In a time when the music industry has grown too smart for itself, when radio is filled with overproduced, mechanical songs that are more about attitude than music, a casual listener would be led to believe that organic soul music no longer existed.  And that's what makes an album like Hopes Too High that much more special.  Sounding like they simply grabbed their instruments in a club and started playing, Marcell & the Truth deliver a stunning set of songs here that are equally inspired and inspiring.  The group effecively mixes elements of jazz, soul and blues, sounding like the rightful heirs of Frankie Beverly and Maze, but with slightly rougher edges.  And while the disc consists mostly of midtempo numbers and relatively simple arrangements, it never sounds repetitive or stale.  To the contrary, the simplicity makes it more effective, allowing a bluesy guitar riff or a mournful organ note to alone carry th

In a time when the music industry has grown too smart for itself, when radio is filled with overproduced, mechanical songs that are more about attitude than music, a casual listener would be led to believe that organic soul music no longer existed.  And that's what makes an album like Hopes Too High that much more special.  Sounding like they simply grabbed their instruments in a club and started playing, Marcell & the Truth deliver a stunning set of songs here that are equally inspired and inspiring.  The group effecively mixes elements of jazz, soul and blues, sounding like the rightful heirs of Frankie Beverly and Maze, but with slightly rougher edges.  And while the disc consists mostly of midtempo numbers and relatively simple arrangements, it never sounds repetitive or stale.  To the contrary, the simplicity makes it more effective, allowing a bluesy guitar riff or a mournful organ note to alone carry the moment, and bringing even more attention to the fourteen excellent compositions that comprise Hopes Too High.  Kudos to producer Teddy Douglas, who makes all the right moves in matching musical moods to lyrical content, from the innocent vocal harmonies of the title cut to the almost eerie tension (reminiscent of the the Dramatics' "In the Rain") underlying the break-up song "Maybe I'm Not the Man" to the joyous build-up throughout the standout track "Time Stops."

There will be many more popular and more critically trumpeted albums in 2007 than Hopes Too High, but it will be tough to find many that are better.  This is a nearly timeless disc that would have been as notable in 1977 as it is in 2007.  But by any measure, it is a keeper -- as are Marcell & the Truth.  Very highly recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 
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