I tend to keep it very quiet but I was once a full-on born-again Christian. During my teenage years, whilst friends got high and stole cars, I chose to read my bible and to organise impromptu prayer meetings in the school library. I had it bad; speaking in tongues and getting slain in the spirit was my drug of choice. Every slight distraction from that path was the temptation of the devil.
It was never going to end well. A fundamentalist faith doesn’t sit well with a liberal outlook and I became increasingly conflicted. On the one hand, the Church was telling me that homosexuality is an abhorrent sin and yet I couldn’t quite reconcile that with the sense that my gay friends were the coolest and kindest people I knew. The church was governed by a set of male elders whilst women did the childcare, played the piano sweetly and made the sandwiches and tea after the services. I would have done anything to listen to a women preach but to suggest such craziness would have been derided; this church was not a place where the apple cart should be upset. Talking of apples, some of the elders seemed to delight in the fact that Eve was the temptress.
I know that not all Christian faith is as wildly right-wing as the one that I landed in. But the net result is that I have no faith now, just a language of love that includes everyone with no preconceived notions.
And that seems to be the place that Ryne Meadow has settled upon as well. Raised in a southern baptist background, Ryne has clearly been on a spiritual journey. A gay man, he must have felt confused, sidelined and denounced as he came (out) to the judgements stemming from modern-day evangelicals. In today’s glorious Sonic Breakfast tune, Ryne reclaims his power by contemplating that judgement. With soulful voice and intense intent, Judgement is a passionate plea for the personal to be considered over and above any organised religion. It’s a tune that sparkles with class as it meanders towards a thrilling climax. And it marks Ryne out as a real talent to watch.
You only have to look at the events in Washington over the past few days to see how dangerous it can be to follow a set of beliefs so wholeheartedly that you somehow lose your own critical faculty in the process.
As relationships go, my time with AMBER could hardly have been considered a rip-roaring success. Over before it really began, this was one of those long-distance affairs that promised much but delivered little. We didn’t agree on much politically but tried hard to make it work as we glossed over our obvious differences. Things petered out within the space of a few sad months and we moved on to better things before the Summer was done.
It might then be odd and a bit niche if I was now, after all of these years, writing a blog post about that relationship. But, as VíB are quick to point out in the press release to their song ‘AMBER’, “Often times when people hear “AMBER” they think it’s about a women, but AMBER is a metaphor for whatever your vice is.”
They add, “Sometimes too much of a food thing isn’t good anymore. Just because it’s good to you doesn’t mean it’s good for you. That is AMBER.”
Lockdown has been good in so many ways but my waistline has noticeably suffered. Never blessed with the thinnest of frames, it turns out that the combination of bread, chocolate, crisps, cheese and wine is not a sensible one if I want to avoid weight gain. Tie that in with the more sedentary lifestyle that working from home brings and the fact that the fridge is only ever a short walk away and trouble is brewing.
VÍB’s AMBER is a fantastic, soulful song of despair and temptation. You feel the guilt as the singer gives ways to his addiction and orders another portion, gram, dose, glass or batch. You can’t help but relate as you eat your cheese and biscuits for supper and drink one more glass of wine before bed. You catch a glimpse of your side profile in the shadows and reflections as you waddle off for a night’s sleep and resolve that tomorrow is the day when your new life begins, a plan easily forgotten when the new day dawns.
VÍB are planning for new releases in 2021 – and it turns out that so am I.
I’ve been to Camden’s Jazz Cafe before but haven’t published a review from the iconic, always-cool space a short stumble from the tube station. It’s a proper music venue; happy punters, smiley, friendly staff, the music tickling with infectious joy. Wined and dined guests watch from their seats on the first floor balcony whilst the cool cats congregate in the dance floor square below.
We’re here to see Ephemerals. I’ve written about them before on Sonic Breakfast (here). But that was a long time ago and the soulful jazz-funk ensemble have morphed along the way. They have a rich back catalogue and they will no doubt make fleeting use of it even if the intended outcome from this tour is the promotion of their new album, The Third Eye.
I arrive to see Shunaji take to the stage. She’s a happy bundle of energy, a mass of positivity as she welcomes herself back to the Jazz Cafe. She’s been two years away from this stage but her fine jazz hip-hop manner immediately warms the crowd’s cockles. During early single, Perfect Like Venus, she lays down her intent before waving an incense stick, delivering with a smile as she picks up the guitar she’s currently learning. A producer on a voyage of discovery, Shunaji is a fine warm-up to the main event.
It’s either a measure of how good Ephemerals are or how great the beer is at the Jazz Cafe but I find myself submitting out of control superlatives to social media by the end of their set. Wolf, their singer, takes to the stage dressed in a full-length white robe. By the end of their third song, my notes ask why I’ve been so remiss to never watch Ephemerals live before. Trip hop gives way to a slow beautiful soul before it’s all shoved out of the way by a mad, mod electronica groove. It’s music that imposes itself upon you, gradually getting under your skin before clawing you tight. As I sway to the beat, I can’t help contemplating that this’ll rank as one of my gigs of the year.
And it’s still only February. How fine this London life is.
I’ve had my fair share of relationship break-ups over the years. I’ve dealt with them in a number of ways but the common factor in all is that I’ve blubbed like a baby. Admittedly, some of those tear-stained goodbyes have lasted for mere seconds yet others have been cathartic, waterwork exercises that have surely tested the patience of my most chilled friends.
So, I confess to not entirely understanding the emotional sentiment of the new song from London based soul act, Ephemerals. “You’ll Never See My Cry” isn’t immediately identifiable as a break-up song but by the end of verse 2, the listener is left in no doubt.
There’s hurt and regret a-plenty within this beauty. Tears might not be streaming down the face of the singer in that faux manner that viewers of X factor will be all too familiar with. Nope – this suppressed pain comes direct at you from the heart – and it’s all the more raw and powerful for it.
“You’ll Never See Me Cry” is the first release from Ephemerals second album, ‘Chasin Ghosts’ that’s just been released on Jalapeño Records. I’ve heard short snippets of the tracks on the album.
On the evidence provided, these are some Ephemerals that are very unlikely to be transitory or to quickly fade.
Sometimes, you just want music to make you smile. You want it to be happy, uplifting and positive. There’s a place for the earnest, the morose and the angry but there are times when you just needs a healthy snack. On days such as these, when it’s damp and drizzling outside, I often get my fix from Soul music.
Londoner, Alexia Coley, has just released her debut record, Keep The Faith, on Jalapeño Records. I’ve not heard it from start to finish but there’s an album sampler on Soundcloud that gives a pretty good indication of where this is rooted. Here is a woman with a special voice backed with a stack of sax and a ton of tune. At times tender, sweet and sultry and at times bursting with a big band raw gospel power, Alexia sings lines that manage to sound both familiar and fresh within the same sentence. As her marketing says, this is “a modern twist on classic soul”.
The video for Drive Me Wild, one of the lead singles from the album, doesn’t need to employ gimmicks or effects to make it work. There’s a simple, smiley joy at play here. Only the most hardened heart will fail to go ‘Awww’ as this draws to its concluding moments.
See if it gives you that kick…
There’s a moment (just after two minutes and 45 seconds) in this new tune from Nick Price when an unfeasibly dirty, almost grunge-like saxophone jazz solo kicks in. It’s at this point that pure sex penetrates through the soulful, smouldering tone that has gone before. This is the clothe-shedding, carpet burning climax that’s touching the stars. It’s hard not to get carried away.
I’ll set the scene as I see it.There’s this remote cabin that’s built for two. Nick Price is in it singing sweet neo-soul. Early drumbeats sound like nails being hammered in to strengthen the endurance of the wooden shag shack. For tonight, if Nick gets his way, the shed is going to rock n’roll with moans and groans. Stars will provide the light. There’ll be enough electricity even though this place isn’t connected to the grid. Are you getting the picture? I won’t go on.
Nick Price is a Canadian now living in LA. There’s an obvious quality and class about this tune and it’s no surprise to discover that Nick is classically schooled. This is only his second release. His first, Naked Souls, created quite a buzz of interest and I’m sure that interest is only going to multiply as more get to know about his music.
This isn’t bombastic, in yer face, soul but rather it’s jazz-tinged late night smoochy soul. It’s hard not to be impressed. Feel the love.