JJ Thames ‘Raw Sugar’ (DeChamp) 5/5

jj-thamesAs the year comes to a close, there appears to be a flurry of quality albums surfacing, and this one has once again hogged the laser flicker since it arrived. As far as I am aware this, the second album from this talented singer with her 2014 release ‘Tell Me What You Know’ spawning some serious plays for me, really does continue to increase the musics pressure. With 2 outstanding examples of soulful balladry and a stunning subtle jazz influenced dancer plus a mix of southern influenced tracks, we have a serious winner here.
Let’s start then with that dancer, “I Wanna Fall In Love”; heavy on the horn support and key changes, sparse at times and then suddenly it comes to life with a trombone solo just for the hell of it – this really is a timeless piece of subtle dance.
Now then, I’m a push-over when it comes to the slower side of the music, deep soul in particular from the late 60’s through to the mid 70’s is something I search for daily, and so it follows; committed vocals and lyrics always grab my attention thus “Only Fool Was Me” and “Hold Me” have indeed taken a hold over me! Both tracks allow our lady to really show us what she can do and I just love them both, especially when played loud they really are superb. There are other great tracks on here but I’m afraid they have been over shadowed by the three highlighted. The album actually kicks off with a spiritual tune “Oh Lord”, I’m afraid that this might put a large number of potential buyers off if they get the impression this what the album is all about, the single “Leftovers” really is stuck between a rock and a hard place, production wise it sounds as if one Van McCoy was at the helm, very classy but once again doesn’t reflect what the album is about. “Woman Scorned” is a guitar driven mid tempo gritty number. There is a very powerful head nodder on here that deals with abortion titled “Plan B” (Abortion Blues) lyrically the most intrusive and penetrating for many years, musically all very down low setting the stage for some impassioned vocals, the subject matter will strike a chord with everyone who hears it and I can only commend Jj Thames for tackling a subject that has been the scourge of the modern free thinking world. Great job well done I say.

Brian Goucher