Album: Shaznay Lewis

Open, LONDON
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The Independent Culture

Having resisted the temptation to rush into her post-All Saints career, Lewis finally gets around to her solo debut some four years after the group's dissolution. And it must be acknowledged that, compared with last year's bland, indecisive offering from the Appleton sisters, Open is a considered and assured work, even if there's not, ultimately, much greater depth to it. Lewis has opted for a sound more in keeping with the Motown and reggae she grew up on, with the limber funk-soul of tracks such as "Mr Weatherman" and the ballad stylings of "Never Felt Like This Before" interspersed with mild reggae grooves such as "Now You're Gone", "Heart Made Me a Fool" and "Mr Dawg", a flea in the ear of an unwelcome suitor. The languid fusion stylings of "Don't Know What to Say" evoke the Motown sound on the cusp of its metamorphosis from Sixties soul to Seventies funk, while elsewhere "Butterflies" employs a frisky, updated Meters-style shuffle. But the most intriguing and individual cut here has to be the self-explanatory "Dance", whose perky groove is not R&B or garage or house or, strictly, funk, but some hugely infectious amalgam of all four, deserving of rather more attention than the few nanoseconds Biz Markie must have expended on devising the most perfunctory rap for it.

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