Deep house is primarily an urban sound, but the Rurals, a duo consisting of singer Marie (better known as "Tweek") and deejay/producer Andy Compton, reside in the pastoral countryside of Devonshire, England, and they've consistently made some of the best deep soulful house on wax for the past ten years. A Rural Life finds the married couple (which founded Peng Records) at the top of its game, effortlessly capturing the essence of their life in the country in ten gems of summer bliss. The album is breezy and light yet full of soul and depth as it swims between house tracks aimed at the dance floor and down-tempo grooves perfect for a midsummer night.
The album jumps back and forth through styles, opening with the driving house of "Complicated," then moving into the more broken-beat-influenced "Read Me Like a Book" before jumping into the disco-flavored "Sorry." Although the house tracks give the Rurals dance-floor appeal, it's the down-tempo productions that really shine. "Relax Your Soul" is an enchanting slow groove that recalls the timeless precision of Sade and the vocal purity of Zhane. Guest vocalist Rowan adds a masculine flavor to "Smokey Jam," an impressive track that sounds suited to a smoke-filled jazz club. Marie's vocals carry the entire set, enveloping the Rurals' sound in a warm and comforting embrace of passion and soul. Her voice remains commanding but not overpowering, the perfect complement to Compton's organic productions.
Saxophone, upbeat keys and fat bass lines punctuate each track, creating a lush canvas for Marie's lyrics to bounce around. Simply put, this is near-perfect music. After ten years together the Rurals have created a sound that flows like water. It is as natural as the rising of the sun and as appealing as a spring afternoon. A Rural Life is a ride into the countryside to find surprisingly cosmopolitan sounds.
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