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Wednesday, 26 November 2008

REVIEW: John Legend - Evolver

After two successful albums, John Legend is back with his third release. Aptly entitled Evolver, we see Legend experiment with this latest installment of lyrics and melodies. Teaming up with producers Andre 3000, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West expect to hear smooth synths and plenty of bass. Upbeat tracks dominate the first half of the album, but dedicated fans will be pleased to know that Legend’s soulful and easy-listening vibes take precedence in the final half.

Though his (reggae-influenced) duet with Estelle was expected, his duet with Brandy comes as a welcome surprise as they harmonise perfectly over electro-pop, on the standout track Quickly. Other noteworthy tracks include Green Light, Everybody Knows and No Other Love.

On If You’re Out There, we hear John Legend take a break from his usual soliloquies about love and relationships and delve into political territory, by calling for change in the world (the track also features on the official website of President-elect Barack Obama).

Though Evolver is not instantly catchy and may take a while to grow on you, with this offering, John is once again proving that he is musically talented enough to carry an album without an entourage of guest artists; and that he may be on his way to becoming a legend in his own right.

© Rachelle Hull, 2008
Published at: www.catchavibe.co.uk

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

REVIEW: Blessed Souls - Open Mic Event (November)

In the basement of Adulis Eritrean Restaurant an intimate showcase took place, amid leather sofas and a smattering of candles on tables. With live music from MAC band (bass, keys, drum and sax in full effect) and hosted by Adelaide McKenzie, the night promised to be an enjoyable one.

Open mic nights tend to be musical translations of Forest Gump’s chocolate box - you never know what you are going to get – and I found the Blessed Souls event to be no different. From a harmonica-player, speaking Hebrew lyrics over a solid reggae rhythm; to a humorous poem about God told in Patois; the unique and wonderful shared the stage with aplomb. In between acts a selection of soul, r&b and dancehall tracks were mixed by DJ KMT, to keep the crowd entertained.

Highlights of the evening included a Norah Jones-esque ballad by a young lady called Matshidiso; an energetic and crowd-pleasing performance by self-proclaimed street psalmist Karl Nova and a beautifully passionate performance by a Ms. Rachel Kerr. Despite the sound-checking interruptions at the beginning, due to a late start, Adelaide’s lively and engaging banter with the audience quickly won me over. As I reclined on the mocha-coloured leather sofa, and soaked in the laidback vibes I felt as if I were receiving a live gig in the privacy of my living room. My only gripe for the night was the event lingered on a little bit too long and having to use the upstairs bar instead of the one in the basement.

For those interested in great music and good vibes, with spiritual undertones, Blessed Souls is the perfect spot.

© Rachelle Hull, 2008
Published at: www.catchavibe.co.uk

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

ESSAY: Obama Election Result: Where Were You?

At some minutes after 3am this morning I could not sleep. Whether it was due to the surprising humidity (in November!) or because my subconscious was encouraging me to bear witness to the historical event taking place; I am not sure.

From the comfort of my bed, I logged onto the site that never sleeps (otherwise known as Face Book) and I discovered I was not alone in my need to be awake. Plenty of friends (mainly from the UK) were alive and kicking; discussing and celebrating the victory that had recently occurred.

On hearing the news I felt anticlimactic and I immediately began to question whether this moment - this day - equated real change and for whom? Expressing my thoughts on FB I was soon to find out what the rest of my peers thought; old friends and new.

I was questioned about questioning the event. Did I not realise the significance of what had just happened? Not only for Americans, but for people all over the world. Not to mention the added significance for Black people all over the world: African-Americans; Black Brits; Kenyans; Canadians; Afro-Europeans; Bajans; Nigerians; Brazilians; Sierra Leoneans - and the list goes on.

Venturing downstairs to the living room I tuned in to BBC1 to hear the first speech, live, from the President of the United States: Barack Obama. In short, Barack delivered. His speech was passionate, inspirational and honest. The sight of tears from Oprah and Jesse Jackson (for whom I cannot imagine how this moment feels), I began to understand. Regardless of my earlier fears and questions this was a moment to be enjoyed and to be treasured.

As the hours passed and the UK began it’s morning “business as usual” routine; I noted a group of young black boys (no older than eight) on their way to school. With smiles on their small brown faces, they argued amongst themselves and I heard shouts of “I’m Obama!”, “No, I’m Obama!”, “No, he’s the President!” The moment was surreal and I realised that for today, at least, it wasn’t “business as usual.” I have witnessed a historical event that truly means something to me; one that I will relish telling my children in the future.

I know where I was on the 5th November 2008, physically and emotionally, where were you?

© Rachelle Hull, 2008


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