If the loss of Amy Winehouse left a soul shaped heart in your record collection, and (as it happens, labelmate) Alice Russell isn’t enough for you, then the answer might just have come from Nottingham songstress Harleighblu. Her new album ‘Forget me not’ dropped today, and immediately she has forced her way to the front of the British Soul scene. She’s not just a poster girl though, she has the voice, and more importantly the soul to go with it, as Forget me not demonstrates.
Through the eleven tracks on the album, Harleighblu proves that she can handle not only the expected hip-hop infused urban soul single ‘play me’ being a good example, but also good old fashioned soul singing, with the gospel drenched Sittin’ by the window being a perfect foil trading with the old classics, and holding out for the new girls. There’s even room on there for an ambitious cover version, the Eurythmics ‘Who’s that girl?’ given this smokey, late night feel, her mellow, misty voice outstanding in the mix. But it’s I believe that steals the show, laid back, soaked in classic soul with this Stax/Motown sound, all brass sections, gospel piano and backing vocals, it could have been an Al Green number – well, damn it, it could have been an Al Green performance in places, its that good.
Elsewhere, there’s the scat-jazz of finisher ‘Love like this’ and the blues tinged belter Casanova that stand out. Lyrically, there’s tales of love and love lost, and, for a 21 year old, Harleighblu is remarkably candid about her failures in love. But she’s also able to be catty, streetwise and even funny, and deliver it with this attitude and style that smacks of Britain in 2013.
It’s not quite perfect, those hip-hop drums occasionally becoming slightly intrusive, but its generally an album of much more killer than filler. Its out today on Tru Thoughts, and its definitely the sound of soul in 2013, and 2000, and 1974, and 1968 for that matter.
8.3 / 10