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Robin McKelle & The Flytones: Soul Flower

C. Michael Bailey By

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First, Robin McKelle & The Flytones Soul Flower is not neo-soul. Neo-soul is what Amy Winehouse was and Cee Lo Green is (at least on his "Forget You"). Neo-soul is a cheeky attempt to cash in on a classic style while, at the same time, not taking it seriously. Second, Soul Flower might be better termed retro-soul, except that McKelle avoids the pitfall of clinging too tightly to the old style that has plagued other artists trying to put a new spin on the soul canon. A mixture of originals with some clever covers make up Soul Flower. McKelle is a more than capable composer—a roll she shares with Sam Barsh (bassist Avishai Cohen's former pianist).

For any Baby Boomer, Soul Flower can be eaten with a spoon. It is more Motown than Memphis by way of Muscle Shoals, and smacks of Bobbie Gentry having a pool party with Gladys Knight and the Pointer Sisters. McKelle possesses a contemporary authenticity that manifests in her assimilation of multiple older styles presented with a freshness that has the fragrance of experience re-imagined. Pianist Beat Kaestli Ben Stivers ' use of the electric piano lends this collection of a dozen songs that sound, which is at once retro and chic. This, coupled with McKelle's honesty, makes this a recording that should encourage a reappraisal of period soul and that being made today. And isn't that what all art is supposed to do?

Track Listing: So It Goes; Tell You One Thing; Nothing's Really Changed; Fairytale Ending; Miss You Madly; Don't Give Up; Walk on By; To Love Somebody; Change; I'm Ready; Love's Work; I'm a Fool to Want You.

Personnel: Robin McKelle: vocals; Derek Nievergelt: bass; Adrian Harpham: drums; Ben Stivers: keyboards; Al Street: guitar, Scott Aruda: trumpet; Mike Tucker: saxophone.

Title: Soul Flower | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Sony Masterworks

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