Sir Charles Jones ‘The Masterpiece’ (Southern King Entertainment) 4/5

First up I have to admit that I am totally hooked in every way with Sir Charles Jones. I have every album and MP3 that has surfaced, including all the YouTube tunes that haven’t featured elsewhere. Two things have been constant over the years, his voice, so distinctive with its slight southern drawl, and the percussion, sounding like the edge of the drum is being struck with a slight echo, it’s so addictive. Having had to wait some two months to get my hands on the physical album – I was sent the digital album while waiting – so I’m well acquainted with all 13 tracks. Essentially a downtempo album with a couple of dancers, one of which is a throw away “Wherever I lay my bone” might mean something to some but it’s just a waste of time, talent and my money. But the rest of the album makes up for it. Let’s go straight to the biggie on here for me, the self penned/Mike Swartz’ song, “100 Years”, which is quite possibly SCJ’s finest moment to date, almost acoustic in its approach but lyrically and vocally one of those stop you in your tracks moments, a pleading ballad stripped to the bone. Yes this is a southern soul album but the production is exactly what you would want, bass heavy, no gimmicks, just a solid musical backdrop that supports the main man perfectly. We have David Lee (Daven) Wilmon on drums, Tony Russell and Terry Grayson on bass, Phil Seed and Jonathan Ellison on electric guitar duty, we have a further five players on keys with Alan Meridith on acoustic guitar. No horn section or strings but this lot create a great sound. Okay, to the other tune on here that has captured my attentions; the simply stunning balladry of “Call On Me”, Sir Charles accompanied by non other than two serious heavy weights in my world, Calvin Richardson and Omar Cunningham and if there was any justice this would be a huge play on the likes of Solar, Starpoint, Stomp, 365 and any black music radio station out there, it should be on the playlist for sure. It has everything to reach the masses and introduce three new names to them.

To the best dancer on here then; “My Everything” has an R Kelly feel and bounds out of the speakers to create an irresistible groove from the off, the first ballad to hit your ears sets the standard for the rest of the album, “Squeeze Me”, a love song sang perfectly, but for even more of the same go straight to “This Is Your Night”, he really is the king of the southern balladeers. Moving into “Destiny”, which is another sumptuous ballad, whilst the album comes to a close, “Mother” has all of the hallmarks of being an anthem in years to come. And finally, the album finishes with a mid tempo stroller, “Fight The Pain”, where the percussion dominates the sound with subdued guitar solos, effortless. There is a subtle funker on here that’s been growing on me too, called “What Can I Say”, but took a number of plays to sink in. Without doubt the top southern soul album to surface so far this year, well worth the long wait, I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, but it’s damn well near it.

Brian Goucher