Noel McKoy ‘7’ EP (Self-released) 4/5

You know when one of the UK’s premier and most seasoned soul vocalist/song-writer par excellence, Noel Mckoy, throws his hat back into the recording arena in the form of a new and long overdue EP entitled ‘7’, that he’s gonna come back bangin’! Finding time in between his commitments to The British Collective, the UK’s original and best Soul super group, Noel takes centre stage with a taster of his ‘People Make Change’ LP, forth-coming in 2019.
Well the musical substance packaged within this attractive 7 track EP definitely matches the sparkle and glamour of the EP cover.
On ‘My Lady’s Gone’, although as the title and lyrics imply, his lady has moved on, the twist of ‘Rob’s Mix’ gives the tune an uplifting, toe-tapping feel good vibe. The punchy, bright horns bring that Incognito/Bluey-like essence to mix. Three quarters of the way in, Noel’s fluent scat alongside the lead guitar is a notable nod to the legendary Guitarist/Scat master George Benson. This combined with the intermittent jazzy keyboard interspersions make ‘My Lady’s Gone’ the perfect choice as leadoff single from the ‘7’ EP and is offered in 4 versions to keep any discerner content.

‘Real Love’ was originally released on his good friend Prince Sampson’s debut album and entitled ‘Where Would I Be’, however Noel loved the tune so much he gave it a fresh title and makeover. The light rock-a-by-baby sway of ‘Real Love’ lulls the listener into its melodic flow from the first chord. This no doubt is hugely due to the introduction of the much underutilised harmonica, which is subtlety laced throughout the tune. A most infectious tune which you’ll find yourself unwittingly humming as you go about your day.
In stark contrast ‘Lonely Ones’ elicits a more sombre feeling with its funeral procession style piano chords. The underlying message is a sobering one, addressing the plight of the silent minority out there who outwardly may seem to be content with life but inwardly crave companionship and affection. Flip the script once again and Monsieur McKoy changes things up with ‘Transition’. A full on Lover’s Rock lilt which gives Noel the chance to bring out his inner Winston Reedy. In fact, I would not be surprised to see this versatile artist bring out a 100% Reggae/Lover’s album at some point in the future. ‘Transition’ has all the authentic musical ingredients sprinkled throughout, from the essential core Rhythm/Riddim track, to the signature hi-hat and cymbal splashes.
‘Me Na Go Ah Dem Burial’ is Noel’s musical social commentary on the tragic waste of young life, primarily via knife crime which has become increasingly more prevalent across the country, especially the London boroughs. The intense and purposeful Reggae rhythm and lingering strings, married with Noel’s pleading and anguished vocal help to drive home the sense of despair of contemplating attending yet another funeral; in this case of his nearest and dearest.
The Stephan Mix of ‘Old Skool’ feat. MC D is a pure salute/shout out to the original music influencers from back in the day, be they from Soul, Pop, Funk, Hip-Hop, Jazz or other. Toastmaster MC D dutifully reels off a plethora of household names, both male and female for a good forty seconds before Noel fades in with the catchy “Saluting the old skool, crown jewels” hook line. Respect due.
This teaser EP is rounded out with the Willesden Sound System Refix mix of the current stand alone single ‘My Lady’s Gone’. Check for it at your earliest convenience. Twenty-nine years on from his timeless classic ‘Family’, let it be known that Noel McKoy is still a BIG time disruptor of, and contributor to, the modern-day music eco-system. His ongoing creativity and enviable energy levels proves Mr McKoy is definitely not resting on his laurels and is a solid benchmark for a new and aspiring generation of artists.

Michael J Edwards