Beverley Knight: Soulsville

review knight x1 cong

After her last album of British soul covers, Knight has turned to the US and the Memphis air has clearly done her good. We’re not big on her music in the Review Corner but the fact that we like this must mean it’s her best work in a while.

She sounds like a performer half her age, given a new zest by the move and, while it’s recorded and played to the highest standard, it’s also got a natural, even raw, feel to it. It’s soul but it’s got a bluesy edge.

Opener Middle Of Love has a classic pop/soul sound with Knight giving it the full Aretha Franklin, strong-woman-sneer for a wayward man thing. When I See You Again turns to the blues, the guitar and organ adding a nice vibe, and handclaps are used effectively, particularly on Red Flag, the central song on the album: swampy blues opens with steel guitar playing in the next room and then comes catchy percussion and handclaps, the steel playing slide throughout. This could be some people’s song of the year.

There are some covers, including a satisfying cover of Can’t Stand The Rain that’s better than expected and a rolling classy cover of Big Momma Thornton’s Hound Dog, with Jools Holland adding smug piano (he’s always smug).

The thing she’s leaning on in the cover: it’s a police barrier, put there to protect revellers on Beale Street from straying too far from safety, by the way.

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