Crystal Thomas ‘Drank Of My Love’ CD/DIG (Gooba Sac Music Publishing) 5/5

A new name to me and what a very talented lady she is, with all ten numbers here written by Crystal together with co production alongside Slick Ross, Gary Smith and Secret on da track. Her voice is a thing of beauty with its very subtle southern drawl and lyrics a real treat – and what a cracking story teller. From track 3 the album takes off for me to another level with tracks 1 and 2 in that southern ‘party’ mood, both are uptempo dancers who will intern have their supporters. The music score on this album should send a very loud message to other southern soul/blues exponents that you don’t have to settle for second-rate synthesised / computer noises masquerading as some form of musical backdrop, having said that, we could really have done with real horns on here too. Without doubt the top track on here is the scintillating ballad, “Every Hour”, with lovely backing singers; this really is an incredibly tune, the phrasing and sheer intensity of her voice is something else, and I for one really can’t get enough of this tune.

The rest of the album throws up highlight after highlight, take the strolling “I’ll Be Right Here”, not so long ago at thinking soul folk venues like Soul Essence this would have been a dance floor destroyer, but I’m afraid the use of new recent and decent modern tracks is diminishing for the next trophy hunted down and played to death, criminal. The title track is a more urgent piece and is very addictive, I can hear Denise Lasalle in there, I can hear a Wurlitzer/Hammond in there too, all very Upsetters, her spoken monologue on the epic “Mr Do Right” is simply stunning and harks back the hey day of Shirley Brown and Barbara Mason, just cast your mind back to the wonderful “Woman to Woman” saga and all its off shoots; a song of tales of lost loves and finding someone new. Of the dancers on here, “It’s Too Late”, should be storming modern soul rooms up and down the country, one of the best I have heard in ages, a dancer’s delight. “Country Girl” is 2-Step step heaven, in which she’s extolling the virtues of a country girl over the city gal, super stuff. There are a couple of blues tracks on here too which really do show off the talent of all involved and they sound so right for this album. The musicians consist of Crystal herself, Eddie Stout, Steve Fulton, Pee Wee & Russel Lee Adkins, recorded at Sounds Outrageous Studio. An album that will be in many end of the year top tens, utterly fabulous on every level, which is available at most outlets.

Brian Goucher