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Review: Quantic & Alice Russell - 'Look Around the Corner'

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Review: Quantic & Alice Russell - 'Look Around the Corner'
Alice Russell may not be as well known in the U.S. and around the world as other members of the new school of British pop-Soul singers, such as Joss Stone, Adele and the late Amy Winehouse, but that doesn't mean she's not as talented. And on her latest album, where she teams up with British born, Columbia-based producer Quantic, she shows that she deserves her placement as one of the better modern Soul singers of our time. Throughout Look Around the Corner, which was released in the U.S. April 3, 2012 via the Tru Thoughts label, Alice and Quantic experiment with not just Soul, but bossa nova, salsa, Funk and jazz. The result is a musically adventurous and sonicly pleasing mix of sounds that seems familiar but at the same time is totally unique.
Although it's clear on Look Around the Corner that both Alice Russell and Quantic have a deep love and appreciation for classic Soul -- as well as numerous other musical genres -- they're not out to create carbon copies of the sounds created by others. The album has both a classic and modern feel to it, and the same can be said for the vocals of Alice Russell, a talented woman who hasn't come to receiving the attention or acclaim her talent warrants. Although it's primarily Quantic's production that rules the album, it's Alice's rich, throaty Soul vocals that give Look Around the Corner it's Soul, literally and figuratively. Imagine if a young Aretha Franklin had teamed up with legendary Jazz musician Dave Brubek and his band for a full album, or if Lauryn Hill collaborated with the Cuban musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club, and you'll get the idea. Among the album's highlights are the soulful "I'll Keep My Light in My Window," the one song on which Alice cuts loose the most and sounds the least restrained. Also deserving of praise are the Latin-flavored "Su Suzy," "Booglaoo 33" and "I'd Cry," all of which feature Quantic's multicultural band the Combo Barbaro.
If there's one drawback to the album, it's the same as one the album's greatest strengths: the voice of Alice Russell. Like some of her past material, the vocal performances are somewhat inconsistent. She sounds great on the aforementioned songs, but on others, such as "Magdalena" and the second song, "Here Again," her voice is somewhat flat or pitchy at times, and for the most part lacks the richness that's so apparent on some of her other songs. But by and large, despite it's few weaker moments, Look Around the Corner is for the most part an ear-pleasing experiment and experience.

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