Saturday, March 18, 2017

D'SOUND-Spice Of Life (1996)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: March 18, 2017

Fulfilling a recent promise I made to myself, I've finally gotten around to a complete album listen of this Norwegian jazz/pop group. Music truly is the 'spice of life', and that was reinforced to me during this 49-minute joyride with Simone Larsen and company that saw me getting relaxed, comfortable and sinking in to a calm Saturday evening. They seemed to make a statement about their smooth jazz style right off the bat with the ragged rhythm and swing of the opener, "Goodman, Good Girl"; no question whatsoever that their spicy sound is anything but simply ordinary. Here's that song again that totally sums up what D'SOUND is all about: "Smooth Escape". Once again, I got all locked up in the chilled groove and the dreamy feel—a perfect arrangement for creating that getaway carefree ambiance that the words—highlighted by her repeated offerings of 'we think life is great, don't care if it's fake'—to this song project. I had realized, as I kept listening, how much Simone reminds me of the British soul phenom Sade, noting further how this song even has similarities to Sade's 80's hit, "Never As Good As The First Time". Well, this "Smooth Escape" song is good every time I hear it, and it gets even better with the spiced-up bonus 1997 version called "Smoother Escape". where an energetic downtempo Eurodisco-inspired dance kick takes the music to a whole new level—a must-have that totally completes this album! Yet there's even more 'smooth escapes' to indulge in beyond that one, like the sublimely smooth and sunny "Love Is On My Way", a colorful song of inner confidence where she believes her day is coming and won't let her red turn into blue. Not so sunny, however, is "Saturdaynightlies" (I like the stylized bunching together of the words to create the single-word title). Despite the nice slowed-down groove, the very presence of the word 'lies' in the title belies the true feelings of singer and songwriter, as you'll quickly get a sense that she's not singing about your typical romantic cool down of a Saturday night at all. In contrast, the mood is perky and upbeat on "All I Wanna Do" (which is really infectious due to the way she and her backup singers chime together with the ad-libbed 'skippy-doo-bop, skippy-doo-bop' during both the introductory movement and throughout the chorus; gives the song a lot of spunk and personality) and the spicy title track itself (that ragged drum rhythm is so reminiscent of that featured in the opener, "Goodman, Good Girl"), as she boldly demands that the spice of life is what she really wants. Found a new favorite that qualifies as THE ultimate 'Chill-Out Groove Of The Night': "Slow Dancing, French Kissing". The title sounds spicy all in itself, doesn't it? But don't let it fool you too much; the mood from the lyrics is slightly unpleasant, as Simone reminds her lover that he played the game to claim her—surely, it was all the slow dancing and French kissing that was the magic formula that worked—but now wonders if he even wants her after all. My favorite lines in the chorus sums it up best: ' here's the hand you shook, the flesh you took, come with me, or let me off the hook '. There's a frequent theme on this album about lovers being fake and just pretending to be, and it's served up again on "It Isn't All That Easy", a breezy upbeat tune that has some spice itself with Simone's emphasis of the words 'fire' and 'desire' in the chorus. Likewise, the frequent theme of looking forward to better days—as first served up on "Love Is On My Way"—returns on "I Know It Will Be". As far as break-up songs go, this has to be the most delightful one I've ever heard in terms of ear-pleasing sound, and her words about regaining control, laughing the no-good man out of her mind, and finding some other man to keep her warm once the old photos of him are torn and soul equally add an extra layer of warmth that I found very touching:

1. Goodman, Good Girl
2. Smooth Escape
3. Love Is On My Way
4. All I Wanna Do
5. Saturdaynightlies
6. Real Name
7. It Isn't All That Easy
8. Sunshine Philosophy
9. Spice Of Life
10. Slow Dancing, French Kissing
11. I Know It Will Be
12. Missing You
13. Smoother Escape (1997 Version)

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