Thursday, 8 March 2012

Diana Ross - Diana Ross (1976)

With a seemless persona often depriving her of a concentration on the music, Diana Ross was born to sing and with only 44 albums released if only she had worked a bit harder in her career. Unfalteringly glamourous, never less than mildly enjoyable, Diana Ross (1976) is one of her great ones. The lush, accentuated settings are what her warm timbre was made for. The exhaustion of love songs means some numbers seem blurred into the next, but her bright, direct intonation injects her uniquely gifted guile that intensifies their meaning. Her voice is a rich instrument that is precise and really does know where it's going to.

Recognizable for its syrupy opening refrain, Theme From Mahogany explores a tempo or marching drums, strings as lush as life itself and a spirited vocal that sounds like a bridge of sighs. Somber, sweet and sensual, I Thought It Took A Little Time is air-kiss soul at its sugary finest. Ross's languid crooning possesses a joyous restraint. Breathlessly inviting, the pouting excursion Love Hangover is an exacting and intoxicating showcase for the sultry abilities of Diana's exquisite characterization. A relay of disco speeds take the song from the bedroom to the dance-floor: and if already on the dance-floor, the acceleration into disco is most certainly bedroom-bound.  Suddenly taking a different swerve (saying nothing of her drunk driving), into her local piano bar no doubt, she finds a speedier groove to her repertoire on the arch Kiss Me Now.  On You're Good My Child, Ms. Ross eats up the rhythms with a vocal flight and agility that's her unique effortless style.  Airbrushing her ex husbands from memory, One Love In My Lifetime is an eloquent masterstroke.  Pledging slow-motion devotion, After You handles the conflicts thrown at her with romantic steel.  Never one to say no to a romantic ballad, Smile might be a touch too show biz for its own good, but I just can't say no. Country-tinged Sorry Doesn't Always Make It Right is another love vow.

With a voice that refuses to suffer, for the vivacious Diana Ross there ain't no high note high enough. Embellishing every sylable and making the words sparkle into sequins, she was hardly scaring Aretha into retirement with her range, but as a singer her timing is perfect. The proof is in her projection: she soaks up her accentuated settings; her lush vox framed to perfection.


Friday, 2 March 2012

Saint Etienne - Hug My Soul (Motiv8 Remix)

With their new euphoric pop track Tonight coming soon, it got me to thinking about Saint Etienne's more glitzier dance outings. There's something so sultry about this one: the furtive and velvety verses are low key, making lusty observations, Cracknell playing some sort of romance novel drenched paranoid wreck with no appetite, or in a drowsy diet pill stupor, or something, then the dreamy chorus that wraps around and smothers you like candy floss. I know the Motiv8 remix tarts it up a bit to gaudily for some, and the original certainly is the most charming and swoon-inducing, but the facelessly uplifting Hi-NRG rhythm from Steve Roadway gets me everytime (it must be the Gina G connection). I just thought I'd write something stream-of-conscious to stylistically imitate how my imagination feels when listening to this little wondrous gem.