Chillifunk is a label that hasn’t disappointed me yet. They always offer quality music on each of their releases and their latest album release is no exception to this rule.
You know Verna Francis from the club-überhit-anthem Earth Is The Place that appeared on Nathan Haines’ Sound Travels album in 2001. You may also have recognized her as Miss Sherman in the musical Fame as shown in London’s West End.
Last year saw Verna’s debut solo single Sunshine on Chillifunk. After the release of Look as second single we finally get the album Down To Earth.
Earth Is The Place is featured on this album as well but in a real different version to the version on Nathan’s album or all the remixes that were available. This time Earth Is The Place comes along as uptempo modern funk/soul gem with muted trumpet, trombone, piano and wurlitzer. Everybody who thought that this tune has had its fifteen minutes of world fame should listen to the new version that really adds a new dimension.
This instrumentation with horns, piano, wurlitzer, organ, guitars and other real instruments is what makes Down To Earth so vivid, real, straightforward and, er, down-to-earth. And of course there’s Verna’s voice that’s deep and rich and doesn’t lose itself in vocal acrobatics.
Take the opener Never Too Late for example. It’s a great piece of soulful funk again with horns, wurlitzer and organ. Like all ten songs it was produced, arranged and mixed by Felix Hopkins, who also co-wrote most of the songs with Verna and co-producer Scott Baylis.
All ten songs on this album are very good so it’s hard to pick a favourite here. But you should listen to the interlaced midtempo groove of What Kind Of World. With its laments about over-crowded inner-cities and its longing for a better kind kind of world this song stands lyricwise in the tradition of social-conscious songs from the 70s while the music is 21st century soul.
Another must-have on this album is the downtempo song Twilight, the muted trumpet by Scott Baylis gives this song a great bluesy feeling and the result reminds me of Fay Victor in a modern jazz/lounge setting. Pause is an equally appealing jazz-house song that again inspires thanks to Verna’s voice and Scott’s trumpet.
With the musically uplifting title track Down To Earth or the afore-mentioned Look and Sunshine Verna gives us modern, house inspired dance grooves that certainly will be favourites on every discerning dancefloor.
To sum it up in five words: simply a great debut release
Tracklisting of Down To Earth: 1. Never Too Late/ 2. Earth Is The Place/ 3. Rimes/ 4. Down To Earth/ 5. What Kind Of World/ 6. Pause/ 7. Keep On Dreaming/ 8. Twilight/ 9. Look/ 10. Sunshine | released 2005 by Chillifunk Records
For more infos visit chillifunk.com.
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