Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Album Review: Carlton Jumel Smith - 1634 Lexington Ave

Carlton Jumel Smith
1634 Lexington Ave
**** out of *****

The retro soul world lost two immense talents recently with the passing of Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, but the genre is far from barren. Take the excellent new release from Carlton Jumel Smith, 1634 Lexington Ave is a lush funky look back to the hey day of soul with, top notch musicians, modern production and stout vocals from Smith.

The album opener "Woman You Made Me" sets the tone as the wah-wah guitars, smooth horn breaks and funky retro soul work, all support Smith singing about love. He uses metaphors like gambling, fighting and swimming all to constantly describe the emotion as he weaves through different pleads for companionship.

"Love Our Love Affair" finds Smith wanting to make his partner an honest woman while "Ain't That Love" slows down the groove very reminiscent of Bradley's work as he serenades his sweetheart. The whole album is directly in the pocket for this style and there are no clunkers but one of the highlight offerings is "Remember Me?" with it's bubbling bass, crisp horn lines and great guitar work.

"We're All We Got" kicks up more of a disco laden groove for the dance floor, "Help Save Me From My Self" is gorgeous pleading soul work while "I Better" has all the hallmarks of classics from the hey day of soul with excellent drum work pushing to the forefront. Album closer "I Can't Love You Anymore" is a dripping in the blues as Smith and company deliver a burning conclusion to a powerful album as he shifts up his singing voice to go a few registers higher adding a new dimension as the record ends. 

Any fan of soul music should check out 1634 Lexington Ave as Carlton Jumel Smith and team have crafted a fantastically strong genre piece which fans and new comers will both adore.
Support the artist, buy the album, stream it on bandcamp or below and peep some video:

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