Fabulously funky. Hypnotically rhythmic. Soulfully Sophisticated. Those six powerful words alone could be the entire overview of this album. But that would be an injustice to the newest project from the genius guitarist, composer and producer U-Nam. Soaring from the success of his previous Billboard number 8 Smooth Jazz album Future Love, U-Nam picks up where he left off and continues the unfinished work of this album’s predecessor.
The Love Vault, due to be released October 11 on this own Skytown Records label, was born out of U-Nam’s vast collection of previously unpolished, unrecorded or archived songs in the musician’s extensive arsenal of music.
Amid his infectious guitar licks lies a hip and rich sound that is heavy on throwback funk influences. Sexy Fresh, the albums premiere release, emits a romance drenched vibe that is funky and alluring. Love Potion is an intoxicating concoction of guitar, unrelenting rhythm, and one of U-Nam’s signature arrangement sounds, synthesized string accompaniment, yet another trademark of the retro dance groove.
Applying the innovative technology of talk box and vocoder, U-Nam implements ‘vocals on a couple of tracks, including Back Seat Lover ( previously recorded by Mayer Hawthorne). Uptempo, happy and addictively appealing, this particular track rates among my favourite on The Love Vault, and the backing vocals of Gennine Francis-Jackson infuse some soulful dynamics and depth.
In what is an glaring tribute to the sound of soul music’s legendary love walrus, Barry White, Hear, My Dear draws from the title of Marvin Gaye’s late 70s hit Here My Dear. The amazingly talented saxophonist Magdalena Chovaancova fo the Euro jazz trio Threestyle lends her talent on this swagger filled groove accompanied by lush string arrangement and additional horn backing. Into The Night delivers an afterhours, fast moving cool drive down the strip on a summer night.
Among the many admirable techniques of U-Nam’s music is the meticulous arrangement and production expertise, and if my memory is correct, he ranks as the only artist I know that consistently employs strings and horn backing that delivers a multi layered and dimensional sound to his natural artistic brilliance.
The Love Vault is unlocked and fully unleashed with a sublimely polished groove, and a sound that is contagious and uncontainable.
Reviewed by Stu Berketo