Play this cut first :: Living Without You
In a word :: Captivating
Okay, it’s been a long time since an artist came along with a sound so pure and direct that it cannot be overlooked. Om Records’ artist, Samantha James, shows on her debut album, Rise, that she could very well be the voice of electronic music for years to come. Quite frankly, this album is so good it’s stunning.
Initial comparisons to Sade are obvious. She has that same smoke in her voice. I’m trying hard not to call it sexy; so I’ll call it sultry. Fans of Aya and Lisa Shaw should also find Samantha James to be to their liking.
Sade is certainly an influence. I would say that Morcheeba and Massive Attack even get in there sometimes. As a result, it’s not a run-of-the-mill vocal house album by any means. Rise runs the gamut from dancefloor fillers, to think pieces, to bedroom music. It’s not something that is easy to do. And frankly, I don’t think I’ve heard it done this well since Madonna hit the scene. Does that mean Samantha James will be the next Madonna? Probably not; the music industry landscape is a very different place these days. If this were 1983, however, well … maybe.
Standout tracks include “Rise”, which is featured below. What is most striking is the simplicity of the arrangement. It puts all of the focus on the vocals, where it belongs. And Samantha James carries it. “Living Without You” has a decidedly electro feel that is clearly aimed at the dance floor. “Send It Out To The Universe” is another traditional house cut that brings out the soul flavor that put house on the map before acid house emerged.
Along the way, however, are interesting bossa nova tinted tracks like “Enchanted Life” and “I Found You”. While these tracks aren’t my favorite on the album, they serve a purpose in showing the amazing range of Samantha James. In fact, these are the cuts the allow her to avoid being pigeon-holed as just another house singer. When you hear these cuts, you wonder what the next album will bring.
What I’m having a hard time getting to is this: you’ll find a lot of hardcore aggressive music on this blog. I consider myself a rocker first. Sometimes, however, an artist comes along whose music is so powerful that it cannot be denied. I adore Bjork, Peter Gabriel, Beethoven, and Stevie Ray Vaughan because there is something in their work that completely transcends genres. It is the power of music that knows no boundaries. It is the power of musicians to be in touch with some sort if eternal and universal musical element that goes beyond cognition and completely penetrates the human soul, filling it with the spirit of music – that spirit that made us fans of music in the first place. Samantha James’s Rise is that type of album.
Best cuts on the album :: Rise, Living Without You, Send It Out To The Universe, Right Now
The bottom line :: This is an album of life. It is an album of endless summer nights dancing on balconies with the buzz of a few drinks spinning in your head. It is an album of cruising the coast with the top down. It is the aural equivalent of the northern lights painting the sky wonderful shades of magnificence. It is an album that touches the core of the human soul and makes you wish that this moment, this very moment, would never end. Yeah, it’s that kind of album. And it doesn’t come around very often.