Shades of Jade – Her Soul

Packed with well crafted soulful songs and soaring emotive vocals that swell and immerse the ear in beauty, Her Soul the debut EP from UK rock band Shades of Jade leaves one in no doubt that the London based quintet are walking the precipice of big things. With the re-release of their five track gem it is surely only a few steps before they fall into the deserved well of further acclaim and feverish attention.

     Shades of Jade found its seeds in the meeting at University of Westminster of vocalist Jade Barnett and guitarist and composer Mat Jones. Finding a mutual musical understanding and working ease, the pair worked together whilst doing their courses and after a break as they went off to do different things at the end of their University time together, met again in 2010 from whence the band’s evolution began fully. They defined their and the band’s direction and sound, bringing Barnetts soul and jazz background into a fusion with Jones skilled and eager guitar leaning, the result their own soul rock sound, an enthusiastic and lively energy fused melodic based kaleidoscope of emotive songs and invention.

Completed by the obvious abilities of bassist Chris Ormiston, keyboardist Andrey Novikov, and drummer Harpal Mudhar, Shades of Jade set to work on their debut, its eventual recording coming in November 2011 at Artspace Studios in Brixton. You can easily hear the attention and deliberation that went into the songs and the band’s music as a whole, its vibrancy and intelligent composition a torch of aural melodic flames. Though some songs within the release captivate more than others the consistency of songwriting and sound is undeniable. Barnetts voice is and always will be the obvious centre point to the band, her voice and command a glorious feast for the heart but the band understands how to successful unite it with music that demands nothing but gives plenty. The sounds are distinct alongside her voice rather than behind it, with neither element riding over the other at any point.

The most impressive track on the EP is Her Soul (Why Do You?), a song that weaves and sways around the ear with a grace and a certain edge. It actually has a wonderful 80s feel to it reminding of the likes of Erasure, not in sound as such though the synth has a definite influence from back then, but in tone and balanced harmonies. The music envelopes the ear as Barnett brings her wonderful tone, emotion and the songs intent through to great effect.

Of the other songs the excellent Female Intuition starting with a simple strummed guitar and caressing voice and the jazz veined Keep On Moving also stand out. The first comes with a familiar presence, its easily consumable chorus and sparkling melodies like old friends from a forgotten memory. The second of the two has a slightly rockabilly lined start with frosty scuzzy guitar stabs and attitude tinged vocals before expanding into a excitable jazz pop parade upon the ear. The brass bursts are enthralling and once more the vocals are equally punchy and soulfully immersive.

The remaining tracks No Choice’ and What If are strong and again well crafted but do not reach the level of the other three. They still show the quality of the band and are more than an enjoyable duo of songs to complete a very appetising EP.

Her Soul is an excellent release and introduction to the band and without doubt will mark them as ones to watch very closely. It also shows there is much more to come from the band which raises great anticipation with the level of quality on show here. Any criticism if it is one as such is that there is not a track that really kills it, a song that is so irresistible it pains to leave its arms but Shades of Jade with the EP more than suggest that given time, there will be an abundance of addiction making tunes coming our way.

RingMaster 13/02/2012

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Strangers – EP2

London dark pop trio Strangers are one of the new bands igniting the genre of electronic pop with music that carries emotions which are impossible to ignore. Their music has deep rooted echoes of 80’s electronic pop fused with a haunting modern feel and clarity, impressively evident on their new release EP 2. Set to be released on July 18th via Stranger Sounds the three track EP is a soulful and senses caressing wave of electronic sounds, music that flows over and through the listener making it not only a simple listen but an experience too.

Strangers was created and formed in 2010 by David Maddox-Jones, formerly of The Departure. They released their debut  EP1 in March of this year to strong acclaim and interest, both critical and from their growing wealth of fans. This new release should go further to compound and increase that enthusiasm. Produced by band member and renowned remixer/producer Glen Nicholls (Depeche Mode, UNKLE, Everything Everything), it finds a fine blend of a kind of nostalgic influence and today’s clean urgent electronic indie rock.

Leading off the EP is ‘It Was A Sin’, an infectious and inviting pop sound, with soaring synth swells and flows surrounding the smooth vocals of Maddox-Jones. There is an obvious Depeche Mode sound, it is undeniable and as much comes from the David Gahan like vocals as from the music, but rather than making the song something that can be passed over as a copy it expands and enhances the track, due to the bands skilful songwriting and how they use melodies and their synth hooks.

Bound By The Sea’ follows close behind carrying a vibrancy and expressiveness that makes one take notice. It has a film track feel to it and images like a video in the mind for it are rife as it plays. Again it has that 80’s feel but with a freshness of a band at the top of their game in songwriting and performance.

The triplet of satisfying songs is completed by the soulful ballad ‘Lies’. Its simplicity and the unassuming impressive vocals from Maddox-Jones take the song on a slow graceful flow that radiates emotion before exploding into a climactic starburst of orchestral like intensity. It is a glorious track that is probably the strongest of the three, a haunting melodrama of the heart that though not instantly as accessible as the lead song is powerful and rewarding.

Where EP1 placed Strangers on the radar EP2 takes the band direct to its target, the hearts of the listener. With music that takes the listener into its arms to dance or serenade them, Strangers look like a band to reignite the electronic pop world and infuse new purpose into its backward looking direction.

In addition to the digital release of EP2, Strangers will release a limited edition 7inch single, through Killing Moon Records on 4th July, featuring the lead tracks from EP1 and EP2, ‘It Was a Sin and ‘If I Found Love.
Pete RingMaster 04/07/2011

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