Beligian/Italian singer Melanie de Biasio made a record last year, No Deal, a record that showcased her singing, songwriting, even flute playing. With a voice that approached both Karen Carpenter and (more pertinently) Nina Simone, at least stylistically, it was a wake up call that soul jazz was very much alive and well.
Despite picking up accolades and admirers, the album (de Biasio’s second full length) seemed to burn rather slower than expected, and so one of her chief supporters, the venerable Gilles Peterson has leafed through his contacts book, pulling together a varied bunch of artists and producers to give the whole album a rework. It works the same as the original, working its way through the original tracklisting, the only deviation being The Cinematic Orchestra’s ‘I’m gonna leave you’, tagged on at the end, the Clap! Clap! rework tackling the track in its place in the running order.
The album opens with an Eels rework of I Feel You, and has this lush, cinematic brevity about the track, certainly for the most part, until its cut up and wound up, but there’s this feeling of the Spaghetti Western about it, all cloaked in de Biasio’s soft, engaging vocal. Hex takes the tempo up, with a house working of The Flow, these high hats tumbling over an almost tribal beat, but he manages to create this feeling of space, the echoey and minimal piano figures leaving the focus once again on de Biasio.
Ninja Tune beatmaker Seven Davis Jr turns up the heat with this brilliant Nu-Soul vision of No Deal. It bubbles away, the vocal cut up and repositioned in a variety of jigsaws that Davis Jr makes during the course of the track. He adds some ebb and flow to the track that makes it swing a little bit, albeit in a different way, like the original. Gilles himself joins forces with Simbad to give another beat heavy version, this time of With Love / Sweet Darling Pain, throwing in a little bit of dub drum work before the track morphs into this bass rich dub-house banger.
CHASSOL brings the warmth on Sweet Darling Pain, before it weaves away, the bassline jumpy and restless, but impossibly funky at the same time. Clap! Clap! gives the aforementioned ‘I’m gonna leave you’ a liberal dose of sass, shards of sound and electronics fizzing all over it. It’s Jonwayne’s stuttering version of With all my love that almost steals the show, combining the heartlfelt vocals with this fluttering percussion and beautifully minimal piano.
That show stealer appears with album closer I’m gonna leave you, with Peterson favourites The Cinematic Orchestra at the helm. Its cut up, dragged through everything good about modern nu-jazz, shrouded in electronics and put back together again, to produce something fitting to wrap up a highly entertaining and emotion tinged listen.