Sharnette Hyter ‘Grown Folks Talkin’ (Lockdowne) 4/5

cd4.75x4.75.epsI’ve had this album for some months now but it arrived when several other albums turned up and sort of got lost in the pack – BIG mistake. Had this lady have been around in the halcyon days when the likes of Shirley Brown, Denise LaSalle, Candie Staton, Barbara Mason and latterly Millie Jackson, she would have held her own quite easily, we would be talking about her the way we do the others. Her voice is a perfect vehicle to convey the feeling, passion and grits required to tell a story, southern style. She reminds me very much of a female Clarence Carter, who for me is the greatest story-teller of all time (In addition it appears she had a hand in writing most of the tracks too).
A case in point is “Got Me Going in Circles”, an immense ballad which she masters with great ease and a track I’ve had on repeat for weeks, lowrider southern soul at its best, this has top-five soul track of the year written all over it. The album kicks off with “I’ve Got A Love”, a classy mid tempo dancer and for more of the same straight into “I’m Not Her”, two cracking songs you can shuffle too, throw your head back and sing your bloody head off, both have great choruses that cements the music inside your head. One of the real standouts is “Put It On Paper”, where she wants her man to make her a respectable woman, she aint into shacking up and he has to put the relationship on lockdown, listen this would have sat quite happily on those epic Millie Jackson “Caught Up” albums from well back in the da.
Next up for mention is the floating stepper duet between Joe Tex II and Sharnette, two great voices doing battle over a subtle beat, “Still Don’t Pay My Bills” is a mid-tempo swinging dancer with all the right touches, ideal for radio play where that smooth radio sound is on point. As usual I’m going to be honest with you, at times musically this is dire, there appears to be little or no production control on some of the tracks, the raps are poor and pointless and add nothing to the overall concept of this album but thankfully they are kept to a minimum. If a real drummer and real horns had been used on each and every track then this album could quite easily have been a contender for album of the year, it’s that good. Lyrically and vocally in 2016 you really can’t do better. Gripes aside the pluses far out-way my concerns, after over 40 years of buying and promoting this great music I will always want something better, but Southern Soul is in my blood and so many albums could be so much better, and don’t talk to me about cost either, a drummer and real horns should be the basic foundation along with the voice. Lockdowne as with other small independent labels should be applauded for putting out what can only be described in the UK as specialist music, thank you. Essential for the vast majority of the tracks on the album.

Brian Goucher