Lisa Shaw is considered by many urban bohemians to be the voice of deep house. Her laid-back, sultry recordings on such labels as Ubiquity, RCA and Astralwerks have garnered her praise and fans worldwide. Her many collaborations with Naked Music artists Blue Six, Aquanote and Miguel Migs have been so well-received that it's a wonder it took her so long to release a solo effort. Fortunately, the wait has proven worthwhile: Shaw's solo debut is another excellent release from the Naked Music crew. On Cherry, Shaw manages to exceed expectations while broadening her sound beyond the deep-house grooves she's mostly known for.
The title track opens the album with breezy vocals and light strings before dropping into a funky broken-beat production. Rarely does the album use tired house clichés; rather, Shaw and producers Jay Denes and Eric Stamile opt for forward thinking and creative productions. The warm bass and tinkering percussion of "Don't Know What to Do" meld perfectly with Shaw's soft vocals, creating a sound that is somehow like a Toni Braxton for the electronic generation.
Each track shifts into a different style, from the breathy pop of "When I" to the funk-lite of "Stylin'." The album's highlight is the irresistible "Grown Apart," a catchy break-beat ride that sums up Shaw's electronic soul vibe. A decidedly mellow intro leads into the first verse, building into a full bass drop during the chorus and adding more airy effects as the track progresses. Then there is the classic that started it all - "Always" - in its original version. The smooth vocal and romantic lyrics still manage to enchant.
Shaw delivers confident vocals throughout the album but never overpowers the fairly simple productions. The tracks pulse rather than thump, and this helps create a generally breezy atmosphere. Cherry's true gift, though, is that it offers a new take on soul, one that is rooted in creative thinking and experimentation rather than recycled aural themes. Cherry may be the vehicle Shaw needs to step beyond the boundaries of the underground.
Naked Music Web site: http://www.naked-music.com/
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