A Different Sound ‘Eclectic’ (Chamber Nickel) 5/5

Storming out of Paducah, Kentucky Chamber Nickel Records delivers this wonderful nine-track album that could quite easily end up in a great many top ten charts of 2019. A simply stunning soul album with many highlights fighting for ear space it really is difficult to know what order to prioritise the playlist. Consisting Ernie Burton Jnr., also known as ‘E-Flat’, on saxophone and vocals; Gareth ‘Mr Brick’ Roberts on drums and vocals; Donovan ‘Teddy Bear’ Woods on keyboards and vocals; CT Shackleford on Bass, and Adam “Duck” Duckwyler on trumpet and guitar and Reggie May on guitar, bass, drums and vocals.

First thing to highlight is Donovan’s voice, which is a mighty thing of beauty, and somewhat reminiscent of The Dell’s lead singer, Marvin Junior, if not the mighty L.V. Johnson – yes it’s that good, and if you need evidence then head straight for the scintillating dancers, ‘Miss The One You Love’ before rolling straight into ‘You Give Good Lovin’. Then, like me, you’ll be shaking your head in total disbelief at what you are listening too; a wonderful voice, top musicianship, and great songs perfect for the UK soul lovers over here.

‘Arms of a Stranger’ will floor you the first time you hear it, with, I suspect, the repeat button clicked before it ends. The silky smooth lead on this is delivered by Reggie May and just about as sweet as it can get; a lilting crooner of the highest quality. For me ‘the’ track off the album just has to be ‘Never Again’ which is something of a shuffling groove-laden opus; all very restrained, with Donovan ‘Teddy Bear’ Woods doing battle over subtle horns. I’m not sure if the lead changes, but he fights to hold onto the higher notes as he tells us “she has to go” – stunning, absolutely stunning. I truly believe we have discovered one of the great black voices of the modern era on this release.

Track 3 comes in after the two aforementioned cracking dancers by Donovan, different in sound and tempo, more sparse with double tapped rim and sax this time with a change in Ernie taking over vocal duties, fitting perfectly with the sound, all very smooth and effortless. ‘Night On The Town’ opens with a keyboard intro and then in comes Donovan once more, it morphs into a ballad of real intensity, mocking horns behind his vocals add to the deeper feel, with further grandeur in the name of ‘Honesty’, which wraps up the album in truly fine style. A plaintive ballad full of melody with a and slight increase in tempo, but not too much, earning its place as probably my favourite of the two. The other tracks just compliment this magnificent album. I must thank Gareth for answering my questions and providing information, I’ve gently nudged him into the possibility of a small vinyl run for us vinyl mad Brits, and I am lead to believe “he’s working on it”. As for the album, it is available on all the popular download sites. As for airplay? Well, Starpoint Radio is championing the release on Mark Merry’s ‘Soul Sermon’ show, supporting the band and heartfelt statement that we just might have discovered the next big soul group. Thank you A Different Sound, you have made this ageing soul man very happy.

Brian Goucher