required listening

CD Review

TONY MOMRELLE  -  Best Is Yet To Come

Vibe 45 (UK) VIBE 45002CD (cd)

Rising Up; You Got It; Best Is Yet To Come; Sunshine; My Paradise; I Should Have Loved You More; We Had Searched For Heaven; I Wanna Be Loved; I Can’t Live Without You; Two Minutes Forty; We Can Have It All; I Believe To My Soul

My familiarity with the work of Tony Momrelle comes pretty much through his vocals with Incognito - so maybe it’s not surprising that one of my favourite tracks on this out-front offering from the man is the duet, ‘We Had Searched For Heaven’, with fellow Incognito collaborator, Maysa [Leak].  With the exception of what one might call a ‘bonus track’ - Ray Charles’ ‘I Believe To My Soul’, powerfully recorded live in London - all the tracks are new songs, co-penned by Momrelle together (although not solely) with a variety of his co-producers, including Oli Lazarus and Ben Jones.  A fulsome amount of real instruments sit alongside complementary drum programming while, in addition to Maysa, billed guests are the aforementioned Ben Jones - who co-wrote, arranged (strings) and was principal instrumentalist on ‘Sunshine’, a midtempo groovy item where Tony multi-tracks throughout - and Sid Gauld, who lends flugel horn expertise to the easily floating ‘I Should Have Loved You More’, the sort of item one could imagine as an above average Stevie Wonder song.  Elsewhere, the set opens strongly with the hard-hitting funky, horn-driven ‘Rising Up‘ before moving on to ‘You Got It’, upping the tempo further and adding a full orchestral backing to the tuneful piece.  ‘Best Is Yet To Come‘ takes a more mellow approach while remaining at midtempo and maintaining an entertaining vibrancy.  Once again, some Stevie Wonder comparisons seem - at least to this listener - somewhat inevitable (but not intended in any way to be taken as adverse or musically derivative), simply because it helps me to best describe the vocal approaches and song styles, even when it comes to the jazzier, percussion-driven (by Crispin ‘Spry‘ Robinson) ‘My Paradise’.  More percussion, this time by Jose Joyette, keeps the lyrically-aware ‘Two Minutes Forty‘ driving along and there’s a poignant spoken intro to ‘I Wanna Be Loved’, even if Tony’s London accent comes as a bit of a counter to his singing timbre.  Together with ‘We Can Have It All’, it is one of the slower and more simple songs on offer and allows one to relax, sit back and truly enjoy.  ‘I Can’t Live Without You‘ too, with much overlaid vocal backing by Momrelle and Vula Malinga is equally laid back but with a perkier beat.  All in all, the whole is a great listen and a credit to all concerned.

review posted 24/5/19