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Let Me Love You -The EP

Let’s get the formal introduction out of the way. Her name is Cathy Rebecca Crowell-Thompson, born in Long Beach, California, wife, mother of three,  and known professionally as Castella, one of the emerging soul voices on the urban contemporary/smooth jazz scene.  It was in the final stages of her long-time governmental Human Resources Executive career that  Castella released her first EP Thinking About You in late 2019 and garnered much attention and acclaim with several high profile award nominations.  Not one to rest on the success of her debut, Castella began 2022 releasing her follow up EP, Let Me Love You, and right out of the gate, it has been met with vast critical acclaim and success. 

The 6 song project consists of original and cover material plus a re-mix of a previous Castella single, and showcases one of the finest and most refined, naturally gifted soul singers. The success of the EP has been immediately tied to her superb rendition of the Atlanta  Rhythm Section’s hit, So Into You, which I never thought could be reborn nearly 5 decades later with such freshness and exuberance in style. Interestingly, the song that brought ARS to the forefront of the music scene is having the exact effect on Castella’s fortunes, based on airplay and chart positions and is a remarkably smooth interpretation of the song that itself has soul influences.  The title song from the EP, originally released as a single and  the recipient  of three award nominations, is a sweet and neo-soul love song where Castella’s vocal performance crosses the threshold from airy and breathy as her own background singer, to powerfully high pitched on lead. 

Also included on the EP is a superb track her fans will be familiar with, along with an alternate remix, So Glad I Met You.  Co-written and produced by Jeff Canady, this particular track is reminiscent of the 80s and 90s R’n’B/pop sound with heartfelt love lyrics sung so passionately by Castella on both lead and background layering. Willie Bradley’s trumpet accompaniment  adds a nice element of cool sophistication that gives the song some serious panache, particularly with his solo piece. Either the original or the extended remix version from French producer, Tom Glide, will more than satisfy the listener's desire for great up tempo soul. Castella also delivers a remarkable neo-soul performance on a timeless classic, My Funny Valentine. I’ve heard countless renditions of this Rodgers and Hart songbook masterpiece,  but never a version that is as velvety smooth and as soulfully sensual as the one  you’re treated to here.  Joe Foster’s guitar work and solo are beautiful and stirring on this medium tempo version that oozes pure romance and desire.

Being influenced by singing greats such as Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Sarah Vaughn, Regina Belle, and even Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole and Karen Carpenter may explain how and why Castella’s impressive vocal style ranges from powerfully passionate to sweet and sensitive a few octaves down.  Both stylings are on full display on this new project.  As for the name ‘Castella’, the singer says that her grandmother was known around town as ‘Ms. Castella’, and therefore adapting it as a professional pseudonym is a loving tribute to a very special person.  

The new EP, Let Me Love You, will unquestionably be another stepping stone in Castella's evolving career and talent. After all, what’s not to love about her?

Reviewed by Stu Berketo

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