Conya Doss - CLEAR (2018)

Conya Doss
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Conya Doss - CLEAR

It’s amazing when any artist can consistently make albums over a nearly two-decade period and not have any interruptions. That goes doubly true for independent artists such as Cleveland’s Conya Doss. And that’s not to imply that an interruption means that something bad happened. Life happening can be enough to result in the three- or four-year hiatus that Doss never takes. She’s dropped a project filled with original music on a nearly biennial basis since her 2002 debut A Poem About Ms. Doss and that includes her latest project, CLEAR. Doss achieved this while working as a teacher in the Cleveland schools and being a parent herself.

Conya Doss - CLEAR

It’s amazing when any artist can consistently make albums over a nearly two-decade period and not have any interruptions. That goes doubly true for independent artists such as Cleveland’s Conya Doss. And that’s not to imply that an interruption means that something bad happened. Life happening can be enough to result in the three- or four-year hiatus that Doss never takes. She’s dropped a project filled with original music on a nearly biennial basis since her 2002 debut A Poem About Ms. Doss and that includes her latest project, CLEAR. Doss achieved this while working as a teacher in the Cleveland schools and being a parent herself.

CLEAR is a record that easily wears the label of highly anticipated, as Doss whet the appetite of her fans by releasing a couples of singles, including “I’m Trying,” a tune that fuses an old-school funky bass line with hints of contemporary R&B percussion. The finds Doss trying to make the case that attitude and actions have changed enough to warrant a second chance.

However, it’s the output that has not been heard that will be revelatory for listeners. One such track is “Misconception,” a song that fuses elements of jazz swing and improvisation with do-wop inspired vocal arrangement. Doss adopts a tone that is both conversational and admonishing a drama king (or queen) friend not to bring her down with drama filled phone calls.

Neo-soul gets its time to shine on “Let’s Put in the Time” and “Hello.” “Hello" sports a laid-back arrangement featuring a church inspired electric organ and a smoothly funky bass line on a cut that finds Doss letting a long-lost friend know that there is no place like home, and that he might want to stick around for a while. The album’s highlight is (not surprisingly) the duet “Falling (Don’t Rescue), another one of those relaxed, mid-tempo funky bass driven numbers where the instrumental arrangement sets up the combination of Doss’s smoky vocals and John Bryant’s raspy and rangy baritone.

It been the lack of a large platform rather than the quality of her work that prevented Doss from going mainstream. Doss’s own artistic vision and her role as a molder of young minds likely means there are lines she won’t cross in the pursuit of greater airplay or sales.  Doss makes the kind of lyrical, adult oriented R&B that a parent can play in the car while taking their kids to school. That’s not a coincidence. Still, Doss has been able to craft a career that has made her among the most respected soul artists, and CLEAR is the latest in the series of very good records from one of the leading figures in the indie soul scene. Solidly Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
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