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Set The Tone - Nate James

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Genre: R&B & Soul - Funk / Artist: Nate James / Enhanced / Audio CD released 2006-09-11 at FroFunk Records

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      21.04.2009 17:55
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      Amazing Debut Album from the UK's best soul singer.

      Nate James is an English soul/r&b singer/songwriter, 'Set The Tone' is his debut album which was released in August 2005 on the Universal Music record label.

      Tracklist:

      1 Said I'd Show You
      2 Message
      3 Get This Right
      4 Pretend
      5 Universal
      6 Set The Tone
      7 Funky Love feat. Carmen Reece
      8 Justify Me
      9 I Don't Wanna Fight
      10 I'll Decline feat. Dawn Robinson
      11 Impossible
      12 Can't Stop

      There are very few British soul singers whose talent allows them to even get a record deal, let alone a deal with one of the 'majors' so the fact that Universal signed Nate James before he had even released any solo material made a few people in the 'industry' take notice. Nate had previously provided backing vocals for the house anthem 'Lola's Theme' by Shapeshifters but other than that, nothing of any real note.

      Britain is not really known for producing world-class soul singers, in fact, I challenge anyone to name some that have been successful in the last few years. Lemar is not included as he was a by-product of a reality tv talent contest and his record label seem to make him sing poppy r&b time and time again. It seems as if the UK has a reputation and, perhaps, expectation that their soul singers cannot compare to those coming from the States. Nate James' debut album is a testament that this is a load of nonsense...

      From the off, you can tell that this is a 'proper' soul album, not r&b trying to be soulful to get a few more sales. The first track, 'Said I'd Show You' starts with some chunky beats and a nice funky guitar lick while Nate sings along with his typically smooth voice.

      'The Message' (the second track on the album) was Nate James' first single and was released in September 2005. This is an excellent track which showcases Nate's style and is not only reminiscent of old soul records but that is also the topic of the song; 'There is something wrong with sounds today, they never really captured how I feel, there is something wrong with sounds today, I think that they are lacking something real'. Personally, I couldn't agree more.

      'Universal' (track 5) was the second single from the album and was yet another great example of Nate James' abilities. This track had a really strong horn section (not unlike some of Mark Ronson's most recent stuff) which, backed with the tough beats, carried the whole song along nicely. The chorus to this track is painfully catchy and is probably one of my favourite songs from the album.

      The title track 'Set The Tone' is an emotional track about breaking up with an over-possesive woman. The emotional nature of the subject matter is expressed perfectly by Nate James' voice and you really do get sucked in to the song and what he is trying to say. I think we all know someone who has been in a relationship with a woman like this, it might be worth giving them a copy of this track!

      Carmen Reece was also signed to Universal and I would assume that is why she appeared on the seventh track on the album. 'Funky Love' is a slightly more upbeat track which reminds me of some Boyz II Men and early Next songs. The two voices contrast well on this shuffled beat, I would have liked to hear them work together some more.

      'Justify Me' is a really laid back, piano led track that is full of emotion. This is a beautiful song that is about the ways a couple compliment and rely on each other, almost as second nature. This is not really a track for lovers, more of a track for couples to enjoy. Trust me, there is a difference.

      'I Don't Wanna Fight' makes good use of the harmonica and, coupled with Nate James' voice, this really reminds me of some of Stevie Wonder's tracks. The title of the song is a dead giveaway but this is still a great track.

      'Can't Stop' is the final track on the album and is a fitting end. It has a simple beat structure but lively synth and keyboard work which makes this a really summery tune. The full title of the song should be 'Can't Stop Dancing' as that forms part of the chorus and is also true of the song itself. A nice funky end to the album.

      Production of the album is split between Peter John Vettese (who had also produced for Geri Halliwell, Melanie C amongst others) and David Brant (who had previously worked with girlband Mis-Teeq).

      This is one of those albums from one of those artists that you only really get to see ever few years and, although a few years old now, this still gets played regularly and I find myself humming or even (god forbid) singing these songs. If you like real soul then you should check this guys work out.

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Said I'd Show You
      2 Message
      3 Get This Right
      4 Pretend
      5 Universal
      6 Set The Tone
      7 Funky Love - James, Nate & Carmen Reece
      8 Justify Me
      9 I Don't Wanna Fight
      10 I'll Decline - James, Nate & Dawn Robinson
      11 Impossible
      12 Can't Stop
      13 Shake Out
      14 Still On My Own - Sway & Nate James