An authentic, ever-evolving love story that took root in the streets of Philly, blossomed into a marriage, children and four studio albums that chronicled every step of the way: that's what Kindred The Family Soul is. Together, as part of the 2000s neo-soul emergence, Aja Graydon and Fatin Dantzler spun the grit and the glory of their lives as a couple/family and performing team and continue to enrapture true music lovers around the world. Their latest release and first non-studio project, Live From London (10th Anniversary of Surrender To Love), marks a pair of two essential milestones: not only does it commemorate their first musical masterpiece, it also immortalizes the cool-like-dat chemistry and kinetic energy created when this sangin' and songwriting duo unleases their full fury onstage.
If A Tribe Called Quest hadn't already used the title before them, Kindred probably could've named this CD The Love Movement, because that's literally what fans will hear and experience during this 75 minutes 1 S. Bank Street sojourn. If you've never been lucky enough to have witnessed Fatin and Aja work their magic in person, Live... will transport you into a front row seat, crisply delivering a rock-n-roll edge to their smash single, "Far Away," interspersing elements of funk and go-go ("Don't Wanna Suffer," "Doin' It To Death") and toe-curling duets that highlight their affection and enthusiasm as partners and performers.
From note one, it's obvious that Fatin and Aja embrace 'the old school': the compilation doesn't mimic their debut track for track, but it certainly revisits the fan favorites and serves enough grit and variety to make it a full-fleged soul showdown. Interludes disperse familiar bridges and refrains that punctuate the full-fledged performance numbers ("We're gonna have a funky GOOD time!" "Pump-pump-pump it UP!") and Fatin channels a couple of R&B's early architects, like Frankie Beverly and the O'Jays, with ease.
The supple sweetness heard with "Everything Is Alright" is replaced with grit when conveying fervor and the frustrations of everyday life (heard in "Far away" and "Don't Wanna Suffer"), but his humor and vulnerabilty goes on display when Aja's slow tempo spin on "Rhythm of Life" all but melts Fatin into a puddle right there on center stage.
For all of her rowdier moments (the title track,"Stars," "We"), Aja will also flip it when necessary, all gooey eyes and butterflies on "If I" and setting the mood for wine, candles and babymaking on the sumptuous and sensual "Contentment." It's a grown and sexy evening that the club crowd is enjoying, to be sure, but Kindred has the ability to keep their banter and stage presence fom straying too far.
Except for some of the intros and interludes being clipped rather abruptly and the sequence of some songs dubiously arranged, Live From London is a soundtrack for a night out, a prelude to a party or just whenever you want to surround yourself with passionate providers of stone-to-the-bone soul. Since Kindred has retained their musicial integrity for over a decade now (as well as their 15-year union), the only major drawback is that this set isn't also a DVD. That's probably a major challenge to pull off, given Fatin's and Aja's full plates and bursting household, but supporting this project is the next best thing and will bring that lofty goal much closer to becoming fact. Highly Recommended.
By Melody Charles