Title: So Much Love
Label: Groove Note
Formats: CD, MP3
Release date: February 11, 2014
Nigerian vocalist Douyé may have been raised in Lagos, but the sounds of American artists such as Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughn, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dinah Washington permeated her household. After moving to Los Angeles to hone her skills at the Musicians’ Institute in Hollywood, she developed an affinity for ‘90s era R&B. That would explain the slant towards adult contemporary music with smooth jazz overtones and just a pinch of the motherland on her sophomore release, So Much Love. All of the songs were co-written by Douyé and British songwriter Terry Shaddick, with whom she’s been working since her 2007 debut album Journey. Fellow Nigerian Dapo Torimiro lends a hand on several of the songs, in addition to guitarist/ producer Chris Sholar and jazz keyboardist/ producer Philippe Saisse. The result is a mellow compilation of tracks featuring excellent production and songwriting skills, topped off by Douyé’s fluid vocals that generally don’t stray far from adult contemporary, neo-soul territory as demonstrated on the opening track “Til Morning Comes”:
The brightest moments on the album are those that diverge from Douyé’s standard fare, and these occur just often enough to make one sit up and take notice. The title track, “So Much Love,” was written as a tribute to the late Nigerian Afrobeat icon Fela Kuti and arranged by bassist Babá Ken Okulolo, who performed with both Fela and Sunny Ade. Augmented by a funky horn and rhythm section led by Okulolo, the song allows the band to shine while Douyé riffs on the words “so much love.” The album takes a surprising twist on “Dance With You.” Opening with a flamenco guitar solo by Craig Bell and featuring legendary Peruvian guitarist Ramón Stagnaro on lead/rhythm acoustic solos, Douyé creates a visualization of a steamy Andalusian night with a new lover. On “Loved by Love,” she teams up with JR Hutson (son of the Impressions’ Leroy Hutson), who produced, arranged, and performed the instrumentals, creating a Caribbean vibe. The gently lilting reggae rhythms under Douyé’s smoldering vocals combine for an incredibly seductive track. Anyone looking for sophisticated soul with plenty of romance will enjoy So Much Love.
Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss