Roland Johnson ‘Imagine This’ (Blue Lotus Recordings) 4/5

roland-johnsonIt’s fast becoming another good year for soul albums, the type you can put on without skipping any tracks, and so to this excellent 10 tracker. Once again we have a lovely warm southern feel utilising real instruments. At the time of writing this is only a download and as is the norm no details of who plays what is available, lets just hope this makes an actual disc release, very retro sounding but it’s the voice that will get into your head eventually, lovely smooth rounded vocals that can go up and down the scale easily. It’s definitely a dancer’s delight but with one of the top deep soul ballads of the year so far kicking off with the on the fours horns and all “Can’t Get Enough” into a superb duet with Renee Smith on the slightly slower “Promised Land”. She appears again on the best dancer “Your’s And Mine” which is a quite superb stroller that echoes the James Hunter Six, I dropped this at my Sunday Soul Sessions at the Courtyard Stanwick and was swamped with punters wanting the details. I mentioned the deep soul ballad on here, well “Ain’t That Loving You” is just that, harking back to the halcyon days, percussion, Hammond, horns drag you into those vocals, the horns repeating their support to Roland throughout. Musically very sparse which is how it should be? The other down-low tune on here is “Mother” which is a meandering finger snapper – a tribute to his mum. Solar radio’s Mick O’Donnel had been playing “Sweet Little Nothings” on his ‘Soul Discovery Radio Show’ for several weeks as an advance from Roland, another top dancer with lots of nice touches so I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of this album and I wasn’t disappointed, at times you can hear Sam Cooke and Otis Redding in here which is fine by me. Recorded at Blue Lotus Studios, Saint Louis. 4* due to the omission of who plays what when and where, we need to know this stuff Roland!

Brian Goucher