Al Lindsey ‘Versatility’ CD/DIG (Private Press) 4/5

It’s a tough time to be a person of colour over the pond at the minute, the current keeper of the big chair is the most overtly racist individual to rise to that seat of power in my lifetime, it appears he’s taking the USA back to the days of the Klan, his dismantling of Obama’s legacy is most concerning. I can’t remember another politician anywhere in the western world who has openly displayed such hatred and total disdain of non white folks. Increasingly, black singers are utilising their releases to protest and so listening to the spoken monologue ‘Versatility’ really does get you thinking. He addresses Hatred, Mass Shootings, Deportation, Racism, Immigration, imploring us all to get back to caring and sharing for one another and celebrating diversity; very powerful stuff faced with the backdrop of a man who refuses to protect the young and innocent from being washed in their own blood because guns have more rights than people. Moving effortlessly into the beauty of the music in the shape, ‘Versatility’, a song preaching harmony and love with stunning sax and an insidious head nodding groove, there are three songs on here that could grace any soul album and hold their own, ‘Heavenly Thoughts’ and ‘Midsummer Dream’ both meander along going no-where any time soon, his voice is in fine form. He’s a southern soul man but has not gone over the top on the southern feel, it’s all very radio friendly, in fact soul radio has already been plundering this, ‘Changed’ the third in the highlighted trio is a wonderful gospel drenched vehicle and sits on here perfectly. If you want to dance then get your ears and feet around ‘Cotton Candy’ which is destined to be one of the dancers of the year – I was really surprised not to see this on the recent Luxury Soul album, as it would sit in that compilation beautifully with its sing a long chorus and insistent rhythm. Now Prince never sat well in my world, he most certainly was never soulful so listening to the Prince like ‘Exponentially’ isn’t an easy listen but I must admit it’s not as bad as it could have been, just, however there is a throwaway track on here and again it may just be me having listened too and collected Reggae all my life I have ever felt at ease when soul-men have a go, ‘Don’t Worry About Me’ is cringe worthy when someone shouts “Shabba Shabba”, I’m sorry I’ve skipped it twice now, a complete waste really as he’s asking Mr President all manner of questions, set in different clothes this might well have been a great listen. The album finishes with a real wailer entitled ‘Home’, which reveals what some have known over a number of his previous albums, that he is blessed with a serious voice, and when allowed to, he can wail with the best of them, this is a cracking album and one I most definitely recommend. CD Baby for the physical folks.

Brian Goucher