Uvee Hayes ‘Nobody But You’ (Mission Park) 5/5

There are voices that stand out from the moment you hear them, make you stop what your doing, they reset the world around you, give the moment some clarity, Uvee Hayes is one of them. Her vocals have a wonderful fragility but she can also hold her own when she has to hang tough. When Shirley Brown and Barbara Mason appeared to be ruling the roost in the late 70’s early 80’s I often wondered why Uvee wasn’t up there, her voice would have added a lovely contrast to the sound that was dominating playlists and the air-waves over here. She’s been around for more years than we can mention, and has worked with just about every major player around, releasing 9 albums, blimey some of us can remember her on ‘Cassette’ and in recent times CDs. Let’s not forget the 45’s I have nestling on the shelves too. Her last album was simply superb and I have to tell you this album is more of the same. Well crafted songs and a music score that is just so right, the musicians are the premier league of St Louis, Dennis Brewer, Eric McSpadden, Vestye Jackson and Gerald Warre. We also have the hugely respected and notable bass player and producer James McKay who is currently the band leader for Dennis Edwards and his Temptations review. (I wonder if Mr Jackson is the same man that gave us the stunning “I’m still in love with you” a couple of years ago, now that is a tune).

She has a following in St Louis, Chicago, Kansas City, Columbia, Missouri throughout the South, her fame has also reached the Far East, not to forget Europe and in particular the UK. It’s not surprising really the music is timeless, base heavy with intricate touches, a bluesy earthy ‘real’ undercurrent but with enough soul to satisfy people like me. Vocally she’s unique at the moment, no-one else sings the way she does and long may it continue.

Some highlights then from the album, “Your love’s got a hold on me” is a future modern soul anthem, its been on repeat play, very very loud too, a chugging dancer, kicking off with short guitar licks and off we go, an athemic chorus line, this has 4am Soul Essence written all over it, its playing now love the sweet back up singers and that sax sounding solo too. Perfect for UK modern soul dance floors. On the last album she was telling us about the “Handy Man” well he’s here again only she’s renamed him “Maintenance man”, it’s a lovely mid-tempo stepper and for more of the same get a load of “Mr Fixit man” with its thunderous base subtle key changes, and a subtle ‘Chacking’ guitar that underpins the sound perfectly – it’s the type of sound Willie Mitchell would be putting out of the Hi studios. Another serious highlight is the title track, “Nobody but you”, a mellow subtle meandering opus and when she sigs like this I can hear hints of Diana Ross in there. I could rattle on relentlessly but space and all that, buy the album wack it on loud and like me you will love it. I believe the release is due for release any day now.

Brian Goucher