By Jack Holmes
Sometimes you hear an album and know it’s destined to sink into a permanent place in history. Maybe just for a decade, perhaps if the artist is lucky then two, but only truly great sounds tend to last an entire century. Sometimes even those great artists are lost, but luckily there are individuals like producer David Gledhill who are set on bringing their voices into the light, or perhaps dark, of the modern music landscape, complete with a freshly produced sheen. His project, suitably titled, SOULS, gives vocal recordings from the 1920′s and 30′s a more modern sound, displaying time lost gems with a dignity and style that makes Release feel completely fresh, even when aspects of it are nearly 100 years old. It’s a perfect mesh of old and new, in a way you’ve almost certainly never heard before.
Gledhill personally tracked down the samples used in SOULS debut album Release, cleaning them, editing them and eventually building entire tracks around them. Each lyric is history and so where other artists who make use of sampled voice recordings tend to shy away from the historical significance and real impact of a voice after a chorus or so, Gledhill happily relishes each individual personality, track after track. Song upon song feels like it tells another tale that might never have made its mark when it was first spoken, sung or in some cases growled, with Release finally giving them their voice (pun intended).
Perfectly telling the old and new through a mix of soul, rock and roll and atmospheric synth, is no easy feat either. Release moves around rapidly, jumping from genre to genre, all designed to complement the vocals of each feature, and does each and every one justice in its own way. One minute you’ll be tapping away to the rapid If I Got My Ticket, accompanied by a frenzied drum beat and a voice that feels like it was born to float from a gramophone. Straight after that you’re thrown a completely different voice with Down On Me, a deep, solemn song that would have been stunning even without Gledhill’s influence, but when combined with an accompaniment of violin and piano, it becomes hauntingly beautiful. You won’t enjoy every track on Release equally because of this eclectic mix of sounds, and voices but you’ll be able to feel the attention given to each individual voice on the album and that’s something truly unique.
Standout tracks will differ with your own taste, but each has a particular appeal. From No More Water with its throaty blues vocals and beats rock drums and riffs, to the soulful vocals on Bad Girl that matches perfectly with a RnB meets Soul style, complete with a silky snare and deep atmospheric piano tones. Every track is wildly different from the next and is tied together through the characters in their vocals that sound like nothing released in decades… Likely because it hasn’t been.
There’s more and more sampling taking place in music, not just in Hip Hop and Electronic music, but now in mainstream Pop and Rock. The internet age is letting us collect, restore and listen to songs from generations long gone, but it’s rare we get to hear them in such fresh settings as Release offers us. Gledhill’s SOULS reminds of the potential that such methods of music creation have when done with some artistic flair, imagination and real soul.