Album: Betty Wright & The Roots, Betty Wright: The Movie (S-Curve)
All the Wright moves as a soul star revisits her roots
One of the more welcome contemporary musical trends involves the restoration of Seventies soul stars through judicious alliances with younger artists, not always from apparently congruent genres. The latest is Betty Wright, here seamlessly partnered with The Roots.
This is a different case from the others, however: rather than try and find some new sonic backdrop to showcase Wright's still powerful vocals, her co-producer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson has opted to replicate the slinky light-funk style that characterised her earlier hits, a Miami sound originally marked by Hamilton Bohannon's keyboards and Little Beaver's rhythm guitar. The album plays to her strengths, as befits a woman who has sustained a career as producer of, among others, Joss Stone's breakthrough sessions.
"Old Songs" sets the template, with clipped guitar riding a shuffling drum-machine groove that recalls the early-Seventies funk experiments of Sly Stone and George McCrae. But even as she's reminiscing over "old records and memories, 8-tracks", Betty's naturally commanding character comes through, scolding those who shirk creative duties by sampling. "I must admit, your beats are phatter," she concedes, "but have subject matter on subjects that matter." She practises what she preaches by confronting themes of sexual abuse and domestic violence in "Hollywood" and a live rendition of "Go!" respectively, and we're never left in any doubt about her assertive attitude, even when she's temporarily waving the white flag in the face of manly affection in "Surrender".
A few guests add variety: Snoop Dogg, always better as a secondary spice than a primary flavour, lends his drawl to "Real Woman", and Lenny Williams gives it the full Womack on "Baby Come Back"; though I could have done without Betty's squeal-jousting bout with Joss Stone on the coda of "Whisper in the Wind". But I have no beef with the frequent emulations of Little Beaver's guitar licks used throughout the album: when something's that right, it's all right.
Download: Old Songs; Real Woman; Hollywood; Baby Come Back
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
These Harry Potter lipsticks are sparking all sorts of controversy with Hogwarts fans
Game of Thrones season 6: Director promises most exciting premiere yet 'starts off with a bang'
Hunted: Channel 4 to test 'surveillance Britain' by taking Big Brother to sinister new lengths
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs