Alexis Evans ‘I’ve Come A Long Way’ LP/CD (Record Kicks) 4/5

The last 5 years have been a glorious period for new release soul records in all formats, with more and more albums getting a vinyl release, and with a plethora of 45s, it’s a tough time keeping up with it all. I spend two hours every day looking for new additions to acquire, and most of that time is searching out new releases. You can tell we are in a golden period when outlets start stocking albums like this. It has no nods to the modern-day productions, not a synth in sight thankfully, all real instruments with the main man being quite an accomplished guitarist. The whole sound is that of the early 60s rhythm and blues with a real southern edge, and sitting very comfortably along side The James Hunter Six, and although Alexis’ voice isn’t the strongest around, more a smooth and delicate one, he clearly sits within this epic musical backdrop effortlessly.

Let’s talk about the music score. Vast, stabbing horns and sweeping strings battle the bass and percussion with the occasional guitar joining the fray. Alexis is 25 and hails from Boudeaux, France. He is not “the next big thing on the French Deep Soul scene”, as we are told. There are no deep soul tracks on here or on his previous album; deep soul is slow torturous, with pleading vocals, over a simple backdrop, far from what is offered here. What he is, is an exciting new addition to soul music.

The album kicks off with the 45, “She Took Me Back”, a wonderful throwback dancer which could grace any Northern Soul/Crossover dance-floor. The big track on here is the simply stunning “Your Words” an absolute anthem in the making, crossover soul nights in the UK and Europe will be hammering this once word gets out and and can clearly imagine this getting some healthy attention at the forthcoming Soul Essence Weekender in April – perfect timing indeed. The myriad of Sunday Soul Sessions up and down the country will cement its place on the scene as one of the true modern greats. Recorded in the Bordeaux, mixed in Sydney by Dojo Cuts and the Liberators head man Nate Goldentone and mastered in LA at Golden Mastering. “I’ve come a long way” deserves special mention too, starting off in classic soul man mode and continues to excite, very subtle, quite superb. Alexis has been at this game a long time, discovering Afro-American music at a very young age and taking up the guitar thanks to his father, an English musician. Alexis stated “I spent a few months composing and arranging all these tracks with the idea of approaching the songs of The Impressions, Allen Toussaint or Bobby Womack (…) and with everyone in the right mood, we found our own sound and we recorded the album”. The other track that’s grown on me and is now a constant play is the unlikely titled “Chocolate Seller”, which starts off with horns that sound out of tune and then morphs into a funky choppy dancer, heavy on the horns throughout. If you’re into the sound of Timmion, Daptone, Kimberlite, Colemine etc then this album is an absolute must. Search out the vinyl and appreciate the music.

Brian Goucher