Buy These Records

By Liz Spikol
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted May. 7, 2003

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Hailing from Philadelphia (of course) and resting in the good hands of the neo-soul temple that is Hidden Beach Recordings, Kindred the Family Soul--made up of singer/songwriters/"marriage partners" Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon--couldn't have a more secure reputation if Donny Hathaway crawled up out of the ground and personally declared this pair the sheezy. Their debut album, Surrender to Love, is not only reminiscent of the righteous pride found in R&B's not-so-distant past (the virtuous funkiness practiced by Sly and the Family Stone, another musical clan, comes to mind), but is filled with the kind of life-affirming inspiration that may have some listeners wondering if this is just a gospel album in neo-soul clothing. However optimistic Kindred sounds on Surrender, it certainly never becomes a turn-off. Vivid tunes like "Far Away," "What Happens Now" and "Weather the Storm" have the pair showing off their glass-is-half-full lyricism in a way that's dramatic and even moving. Other Philly soulsters share in Kindred's communal harmony. James Poyser adds his keys to several tracks. On "We," poet Ursula Rucker scares up some verses on the healing power of love. And Jill Scott, Musiq and Bilal join in to perform on "Family Song (Reprise)." Even if you're a cynical bastard who doesn't fall for that family-is-everything junk they feed you on 7th Heaven, Kindred is persuasive enough to make you call up your parents and thank them for putting up with your ass. (Craig D. Lindsey)

from the vaults

Julie London
Lonely Girl

Not long ago I was playing Julie London's Lonely Girl in my office when someone came in and asked if it was Chet Baker. That should tell you something about London's voice. The blond bombshell--the Veronica Lake of jazz vocalists--made her recording debut in 1955 with Julie Is Her Name, and turned "Cry Me a River" into a hit. London's deep, smoky voice belied her Miss Universe appearance, and though she was well known for her beauty--and some may say she exploited it--there was no denying her talent. On Lonely Girl, which came out just one year after Her Name, London goes from sultry to almost somnambulant--so sleepy is her delivery it makes you wonder if she and Baker shared a fondness for a certain substance. Al Viola (Clooney, Ella, Anita O'Day, Sinatra) accompanies her on guitar for melancholy greats like "Fools Rush In," "All Alone" and "When Your Lover Has Gone," but perhaps most stunning is her rendition of "Where or When," which sends you right back to Jimmy Scott despair again. Though it's tough to find, Lonely Girl is worth its weight in Chet Baker gold. (L.S.)

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