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This latest album from Carleen Anderson tells a fascinating, compelling and slightly frustrating story. Without labouring the already well established facts of her personal musical heritage and history (daughter of legendary James Brown vocalist Vicki Anderson and main song-writing talent within The Young Disciples) it must be said that this recording could not have been made by anyone without her rarely equalled experience and wide musical horizons.
Alberta's Granddaughter combines an amazingly varied range of musical styling and influences, but with the common thread of roots instrumentation and straight ahead production..
Although, generically this album straddles funk, full on blues, jazz and even a touch of the operatic, this is overwhelmingly an R&B album.
In this case, R&B denotes genuine rhythm & blues, not the pop/soul hybrid that currently resides erroneously under that moniker. The music contained is mostly presented in a truly organic state, no samples, and basic instrumentation of acoustic rhythm section with Hammond organ, piano and sax topped of by that voice which today displays even more versatility and gravitas than we have already to come to expect.
In terms of material, the opening track "Loves Remedy" most closely resembles Carleen as we already know her a catchy groove, embellished with that voice that subtly winds its way through some highly personal and honest lyrics its so close to the bone, it almost makes you want to blush. This is highly preferable to the well worn cliches and platitudes present in many current RnB recordings, and is all the better for it.
The intro to track seven brings into focus the depth of her approach to melody. Who else could interpret Noel Gallagher's "Dont Look Back In Anger" utilising just piano and voice to such touching effect? One can imagine Gallagher's probable delight, embarrassment and joy at having such an unlikely piece re-worked to such great effect.
This recording is genuine, highly personal, well written and far outside the boundaries of current 'urban' music. She has lovingly crafted this album using all her talents, lifelong influences and delicate taste. It is these admirable factors that mean her latest offering will probably confuse and confound, seeming to many a deliberately un-commercial effort.
It is a brave, single-minded artist who chooses to fly in the face of the current commercial tide. Carleen has achieved this brilliantly but may pay a price in terms of frustrating industry pundits and perhaps some fans who would rather place her in one pigeon hole and prefer her to make radio friendly music.
Ms Anderson is a rare talent with an even rarer musical integrity. These factors may mean this release never receives the full commercial acclaim it deserves, but it does mean that those of us who appreciate honest musical expression have something to cherish in a highly frivolous musical climate. All strength to her.