Hurricane Records (Released 4 July 2011)
She has been in the music business since 1995 and, despite the likes of Adele and Leona Lewis having garnered more fame and sold far more than her in well under half that time, the original lady of modern British soul, Beverley Knight, is still here and still going strong. Knight is back with her seventh album, Soul UK, a dedication to the many British soul artists she herself grew up listening to and that have inspired her throughout her life and career. All 13 tracks on the album are covers of more obscure soul, funk, jazz, blues and R&B songs by some well-known British artists such as Soul II Soul, Jamiroquai and George Michael, as well as some virtually unknown singers and bands.
If you know of any of the songs on the album, you may probably agree with us that Knight has done pretty much of all them and their original artists justice and proud. The album’s funky, upbeat tracks hark back to the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, when edgy acid jazz met cool, soulful disco, as heard in lead single ‘Mama Used To Say’, Soul II Soul’s ‘Fairplay’ and ‘Southern Freeez’. However, it is ‘Cuddly Toy’, one of the unfortunately few real vibrant, high-energy tracks that makes you want to stomp your feet and clap your hands all the way through that is one of this album’s stand out tracks.
When it comes to passionate balladry, Knight’s rich, warm vocals soothe and soar effortlessly; in particular, the beautiful ‘Always And Forever’ and George Michael’s ‘One More Try’ possess plenty of power to pull at the heart strings. Similarly, Knight’s laid-back, slow-jam version of Jamiroquai’s debut single ‘When You Gonna Learn’, is an interesting and unique take on the trippy original that should not be overlooked.
It would be reasonable to call Knight ‘highly under-rated’; certainly if you were to look at her traditionally low press coverage and her historic album sales, that would seem to be a fair comment. However, she has been going strong for 16 years, time and time again bringing back soul and injecting it into the music industry. She and the rather amazing Soul UK deserve all the recognition they can get. With Soul UK Miss Knight is like a music teacher; here to re-educate the nation on what real, old-school soul music is.