If you’re like me, then you’ll remember tuning into the radio back in ’92 and hearing the throaty and soulful vocals of N’Dea Davenport singing, “Never Stop”, and thinking who is this, I must know now! Upon learning that is was the debut of UK band, The Brand New Heavies, at the height of the Acid Jazz movement, I immediately became fixated on the new genre that incorporated Jazz, Funk, Soul and Dance rhythms. The sound encapsulated the groovy 70’s vibe of artists like James Brown, Parliament, Tower of Power and Roy Ayers, while pushing the sound forward with newer R&B, Dance and Soul. “Forward’ is exactly what The Brand New Heavies are doing on their latest album, under the same name, keeping the party and vibe relevant in 2013. Just shy of their Silver anniversary, the group is back with familiar sounds, while advancing the platform to today’s musical landscape.
Davenport is thankfully back to grace the album with three of the best tracks on the album, including the hit, “Sunlight”, and my personal favorite, 80’s and R&B sounding, “So You Remember”, plus the classic BNH sound of “Addicted”, are all worth adding “FORWARD” to your Summer listening. It really is easy to become addicted to Davenport’s vocals, which are more than just belting out a track, especially in age of TV shows like The Voice, Idol etc. N’dea wraps her voice around the music creating a lifestyle, not just a voice. It’s familiar, makes you move and it’s never the same upon every listen. Thankfully I know Davenport is always busy with eclectic projects that showcase her amazing talents.
On “FORWARD”, BNH also enlist newcomer, Dawn Joseph who is reminiscent of former BNH singer, Siedah Garrett. Standout tracks for Joseph include, “A Little Funk In Your Pocket” and “Lifestyle”, where she shows true funk and soul. Occasionally, BNH are guilty, on “Forward”, of writing one too many tracks that summarize the vibe and sound of a particular era – namely the 70’s Funk era. BNH use Joseph on most of these tracks including, “Lifestyle”, “Lights” and “Turn The Music Up”. That being said, all of these tracks are infectious and worthy of not advancing forward.
Surprisingly, two of the standout tracks come from original member, Jan Kincaid who sings two of the freshest sounding tracks from the group including, “On The One” and another favorite that’s made it into my personal playlist, ‘Heaven”.
Another founding member, Simon Bartholomew also graces “Forward” with his funk vocals on “The Way It Goes” and “Spice of Life”. I’ll be honest it took me a minute to get into these two tracks, but after several listens, I realized both tracks advance the BNH sound to new heights. “Forward” really is a complete and satisfying album that can be played from beginning to end at a major party, or party for one, as in my case. It’s satisfying and will keep you coming back for seconds and thirds. Sample tracks from our Featured Artist here: Click Here.