Black British soul music might be microscopic in influence compared with its monolithic American counterpart, but when it works in mysterious ways, it's satisfying stuff. Gabrielle (below right) and Mark Morrison illustrate the point. Both took up residency in the Top 10 earlier this year. Gabrielle's "Give Me a Little More Time" was a south London Motown oddity, while Morrison played strictly by the slick, US R&B rules, and was blander for it. Gabrielle didn't have a Number one, but had the raw earnesty to hit where it hurts. And so, too, does her eponymous album. Her songs of emotional wear and tear, plus gritty insight in "Forget About the World", come from someone who takes from inside rather than production- line soul techniques.
Adventurousness on the live circuit hasn't been one of Gabrielle's strong points so far, however. She may have wooed the multitudes at the Pride festival recently, but she'll only step out on her first tour this autumn. One hopes this year's success puts a gleam in Gabrielle's eye and she'll realise that if Desree and Seal can take the eccentric Brit feel to America's soul feast and make them eat, she can, too. But not without putting in several backbreaking tours first.
Gabrielle, Ronnie Scotts, London WC2 (0171-439 0747) Sun