Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1093

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Review

Soulpersona & Princess Freesia: The Game (Sunset City Records)

Soulpersona & Princess Freesia: The Game (Sunset City Records)

8

7.3

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UK release date 24.05.2019

Brighton-based Soulpersona and Princess Freesia have been making some fine music for the past decade. Both are extremely talented individuals in their own right and a listen to any of their previous recordings proves just how good they are. When they come together, however, the standards rise higher still. They bring out the best in each other. So, as my finger hovered above the mouse, about to click ‘play’, I had feelings of great anticipation and trepidation too. Could their fifth album standup to their previous collaborations? And then, there’s the subject matter too. This could get real heavy. Let "The Game" begin…

Freesia has always been a clever and imaginative lyricist, and when it comes to singing, she has always had a soulful delivery with a style that borders on jazz. Listening to “The Game” I realise just how banal and uninformative that previous statement sounds. On this album, Freesia lays her very soul bare. Only someone who has experienced the darkest times, battling acute anxiety and personal insecurities, could possibly have written the words she sings. Vulnerable on occasions, at other times anguished, Freesia relives her journey through the darkness until the sun finally begins to poke its head through the dense clouds.

Enter Soulpersona, the musician and producer who knows her so well. He provides the perfect soundscape, his production being far from minimalist but it’s also clutter-free, which allows Freesia to take centre stage. Unlike a number of his peers who attempt to make carbon copies when going for a retro vibe, Soulpersona’s music is thoroughly contemporary while taking an affectionate nod back at great music of bygone times. Disco-soul and jazz-funk for the 21st century! And that is the genius at play in “The Game”. It makes the theme of the album accessible to all. The songs can be played in any environment. Whether the music is played In a club, on the radio, at home or in the car, Freesia’s messages get across. Had the music been too sombre, it may have been too difficult to deal with, but Soulpersona’s sympathetic and sophisticated production on a collection of up-tempo and mid-tempo tunes demands that people listen.

Soulpersona, as you may expect, called upon a trio of tried and trusted musicians who know exactly where he’s at. Carl Hudson delights on the Fender Rhodes, Marcus Porter lays down some meaty basslines and the gorgeous guitar licks come courtesy of Terry Lewis. Freesia, for her part, not only sings lead but performs the soothing multi-layered omnipresent backing harmonies. Between them, they lay down the quality grooves, each of which grow on you and take on a deeper meaning with each play.

Understandably, if only because the tune is the most instant, the chunky "When You're Broke" is the lead single but every one of Freesia’s songs is essential listening.

If forced to choose my personal favourites they’d be the candid “Self Destruct”, the cry for help “Lifeline” and the lilting swayer “New Paradise” where she shares her dreams of a brighter tomorrow, an optimistic finale on the set. Well, the finale as far as Freesia is concerned. The very last of the eleven tracks is an instrumental reprise of “When You’re Broke” which is completely transformed by Terry Lewis’ euphoric electric guitar solo that lets you know in no uncertain terms that she is in a much better place than she was.

Recording “The Game” was, I daresay, an emotionally draining experience, and when the project – through no fault of their own – came close to being terminated a matter of weeks before it was completed, that experience would have been magnified. Sheer will power and the goodwill of others ensured the album was accomplished. It would have been a travesty if the project had been shelved indefinitely. Under normal circumstances, I would usually advise the curious to give it a try, but this is no ordinary album. Owning a copy should be made compulsory.
Words DUNCAN PAYNE

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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