China Soul is a Florida-born, expressive voiced singer-songwriter who draws considerable inspiration from song writing greats such as Bob Dylan and Tracy Chapman. Debut album, Secrets & Words, is a release of great inconsistency which showcases China Soul's soulful and meaningful vocals in a number of musical settings; some proving great potential yet others with a disappointing lack of vibrancy.
Opener 'Cold' establishes Soul's Norah Jones meets KT Tunstall vocal tone and easy listening folk vibe as meandering vocals wander over instrumentation reminiscent of About A Boy era Badly Drawn Boy; strummed acoustic guitar, synth strings and a gentle suggestion of piano. 'What My Baby Don't Know', on the other hand, is a stomping country-blues number with banjo, vocal attitude and trombone backing. In terms of contemporary female blues vocals though, Steph Ward of Kill It Kid undoubtedly sets the benchmark and China falls a good way short; her meandering, flat song writing largely to blame. The down-tempo, emotional and swooping chorus of 'Remains Of Our Day' and later the a capella 'Be My Husband' do however evidence Soul's vocal ability and the power of her voice; the latter even glimpses her smooth head voice as well as the strong bluesy chest voice heard throughout Secrets & Words.
Continue reading: China Soul, Secrets & Words Album Review
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