Omar ‘The Man’ 12″/CD single/digital (Freestyle) 4/5

In anticipation of a new album due out this year, neo-soul singer Omar returns with arguably his most convincing song since the rare groove classic ‘Nothin’ like this’ which was actually some twenty years ago. The lovely bass clarinet and flute accompanied intro leads into a simple, yet instantly catchy hook which is mid-tempo and soulful and befitting his essentially classical soul approach this has elements of Stevie Wonder and the Earth, Wind and Fire horns. As well as two re-mixed versions of the aforementioned song, the 12″ features as a bonus a reworking of ‘Nothin’ like this’ with acoustic guitarist Pino Palladino lending a more stripped down sound, though the bassline is instantly recognisable and the brass unsion accompaniment and saxophone solo are a nice touch, and make for a fine alternative version to the original. Omar is very much back in the groove and there will be great expectations for the album when it arrives.

Tim Stenhouse