Ten tracks of soul and pop songs we all will know, to the point, I must admit, of making me at first a little reluctant to listen to Whenua Patuwai ’s debut album.
The thing I really like about ‘The Soul Sessions’ is the construction; from the engineering by Sam de Jong, the recording of Patuwai’s voice, the amazing BV/feature singers to the high calibre musicians – most of Stan Walker’s amazing band and singers like Turanga Merito, Erakah Nansen and Ria Hall. Anyone up and coming would be lucky to have this type of band behind their first release.
Patuwai does a really good job of singing his favourite songs, with a lovely timbre and richness of voice that is maturing and will only get better. With the quality of BV and support singers used a couple of decibels volume increase and some chorus/response qualities would have been a treat. The sound is kept super clean, which feels contradictory to the originals, of the soul tracks in particular, which are gritty, dark, full of melancholy and most definitely emotively raw. This album is perhaps the opposite of that as it is 10 tracks of feel good sing-a-long songs from Midnight Train To Georgia to the ever-sung Ain’t No Sunshine.
It’s safe, light and easy to listen to cruisy music, which perhaps is what Parachute Records’ audiences really enjoy, so perfectly suited for them as a label release.