"Surrender To Love" was released in 2003 by the husband and wife duo of Kindred The Family Soul. The Philadelphia pair take on a Neo-Soul approach (which was extremely popular in the city when you consider how Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott, Boyz II Men and others came up on that style and find that the act (consisting of Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon) are able to compete on an underground level with the contemporary Soul market.
1. "Ryva" (Intro)
2. "Surrender To Love"
After an introduction from Ryva, the act get the opportunity to get right into things here as they set things off in a big way. They set the album off with a bass-driven, funky track which has them showing how well they are primarily able to merge the contemporary R&B sound together with the day's Hip Hop and then a little extra added classic Funk (the sort of thing you can never go wrong with).
3. "Rhythm of Life"
They change things a little for this one as they come off a feel-good track and take things in a deep and more spiritual direction for this one. They seemed to do quite well with it as they jump over funky percussion breaks and light instruments which guide them through this jam of a recording. This one has a lot of energy to it and it finds that the wife of the duo takes the lead role and really gets everything out of the tune with her solid vocal performance.
4. "Far Away"
This was the single which initially grabbed my attention and made me aware of the act. It's amongst their best recordings and something you can't really mess with as they make such a great effort at showing what exactly they're about and how they oppose what else was going on in the world at the time. This is some pure and uplifting Soul material that has the power to make you rethink the way you live your life or make you want to move 'far away' from the world as it currently is.
5. "Weather of Storm"
I thought that they were holding things up well here in spite of the fact that it was clear that the standard of the music wasn't quite able to compete with others which they dropped elsewhere on the album. Once again this one relies upon the lead of Aja, but Fatin still gets a prominent role in this tune on two of the verses to show that he has just as much to offer as his wife does.
I thought that the way the act took this one was really nice and was done in a way that I can't see many people having much of an issue getting into. It's a tune which really makes great use of the chemistry the two vocalists clearly have (as a married couple) and how they're able to expand upon this into a track which has them focusing-in on how beneficial unity is on many levels.
This was the pair's second single (coming after "Far Away"). I thought that they did a nice job with this one and were able to hold up the consistency that they've been able to bring up to this point on the record. I saw this one as the sort of track which really takes you away with its soulfulness and how it sounds as though it's been inspired by a time which all can relate to and so will have an emotional connection with.
8. "I Am"
This is s alight tune and by this point on the album it becomes apparent that they haven't gone back towards the sort of thing heard on the opening of the record until the chorus comes on this one and things gets much brighter. This is your typical empowering track and one which has Aja putting in work to come up with a sort of female's anthem and one which does well to ensure all girls can relate.
9. "Family Song" (Reprise)
10. "What Happens Now"
We move right on from a short one to get back on track with the more full works. I thought that they made a great impression with the way they took this track and they get into a little something that I thought you'd have trouble finding flaws in when you hear something as fresh and funky as what's given here. They completely kill it with this one and show just how well they manage with a range of Soul styles.
11. "Meant To Be"
I was excited by the way that they took this one as they decide to go for a track driven in a heavy way with some deep bass guitar work to provide the funky grooves and then some ascending horn work to really get things all lively and energetic. It's a highlight of the album and the sort of thing which is able to appeal to a brought range of listeners as they do things so well and come with an approach which is essentially cannot be done wrong.
The direction of the music shifts somewhat for this one and I felt that it was a good time to do so after being uplifted so much by the last one. This is a well-structured piece from them, but seems to be in a way which won't favour the types of people who only really know of the more mainstream examples of Neo-Soul in Musiq Soulchild and Jill Scott and won't have got into more poetic examples such as these.
13. "Spread The Word"
I was glad to see that the two of them hadn't given up on the funky material and had opted to return back to that sort of thing for this one. Here it's all about Fatin and I thought that he did a great job at pulling off much a tune where it's all about how well he's able to take listeners back in time towards the late seventies (with Aja's aid on one verses) and show where exactly their influences have come from.
14. "If I"
We're really taken away with this jazzy tune. I thought that they way they did this one was a bit full on with a 'wall of sound' sort of effect being created in the backing to the vocals. I thought that it seemed to create a sense of urgency behind the track, and one which changed the course of the music. I, personally, wasn't really much of a fan of this on a Neo-Soul track and so though that the standards slipped a little.
15. "Entertain The Peoplez" (Lude)
16. "Don't Wanna Suffer"
This is a fast-paced Funk track from the act. We find that here the two of them go in hard with an intense and lively style that I thought would draw in those who like the Gospel-inspired Soul as they do it so well here and get backing from late sixties, JBs-styled Funk that really fits in well with the overall feel of this album and all that's packed into it. The vocals draw your attention to it and the instruments do the rest of the work to get you grooving.
17. "Party's Over"
This is the final full-length track on the album and I thought that it was a nice way to close things off with. It has a real commercial feel to it and so I thought it to be strange that it wasn't included as one of the singles from the thing. Having said this, I felt that they ensured that there were a lot of hidden surprises within the main body of the thing and this Flo Brown and Malik E-featuring track.
18. "Freedom" (Outro)
I thought that this album had a lot to offer and was something that any Neo-Soul fan would be pleased to have in their collection. At every turn there seems to be another surprise as they come out with a range of powerful tunes which show just how much they have to offer the game and how well they compliment the others which work in their Philly Soul field.
If you are a regular reader of my reviews then you will probably know that I like quite a lot of relatively unknown artists Kindred The Family Soul are one of my favourite lesser known R&B artists. The duo consists of married couple Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon. Their music emerged from the Philadelphia neo soul movement which includes the neo soul star Jill Scott. Kindred The Family Soul released their first album Surrender to Love in 2003 after signing to the Hidden Beach record label in 2002. The duo have released two albums since, 2005's In This Life Together and their latest in 2008, The Arrival.
**Kindred The Family Soul**
Aja Graydon - The Wife of the duo and Aja has a sweet voice with a superb tonal balance. She has moments where she sound very similar to Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott but she also has her own character and is a fine vocalist with a variety of different styles.
Fatin Dantzler is the Husband of the duo and has an amazingly powerful voice which is up there with the best around today. He can also sound brilliant when he is singing gently or with a falsetto and He really is a great singer.
**Surrender to Love**
Although only reaching 159 in the Billboard album charts Kindred The Family Soul's debut Surrender to Love was a hit with many critics and the duo have built up a strong following from dedicated fanbases around the world. The album was released on 25th February 2003 and features 18 tracks are all either co written by Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon themselves or some songs written by only one of them. Creating a very personal biographic album. Here's my review of Surrender to Love.
1.) Ryva - Kindred the Family Soul, Parker, Ryva
This is a live track with Ryva pronounced River introducing Kindred The Family Soul. This is a good start to the album and gets the album off on the right foot.
2.) Surrender to Love - Kindred the Family Soul, Graydon, Aja
Now here's the title track of the album and this is a very funky track with a great hook. Aja takes on the main vocal here and this track is more like something that a more well known artist would have real success with despite this version probably being a lot better.
3. Rhythm of Life - Kindred the Family Soul, Graydon, Aja
This is a gentle track with some beautiful soft guitar and then the beat comes in. Aja is the main vocalist on this track and this has hints of Jill Scott and also a little Erykah Badu which I am not overly pleased about as I am not a fan and have never got the appeal of her. A decent track though.
4.) Far Away - Kindred the Family Soul, Graydon, Aja
This is one of the tracks you may have heard. This is a fantastic track about wanting to get away from things. Both singers produce stunning performances. This is one of the greatest tracks and shows they should be far more well known than they are. Absolutely superb.
5. Weather the Storm - Kindred the Family Soul, Graydon, Aja
This track opens with the sound of a rain storm and then the horns come in with the beat and percussion. This is one of the best tracks as it features both singing like they are having a conversation. Aja's vocal is sweet, emotive and clear and Fatin's vocals are superbly powerful and emotive. The second part of the song is where they both truly shine.
6. We - Kindred the Family Soul, Graydon, Aja
This track Featuring Ursula Rucker is only 2 minutes:26 seconds but it has enough time to showcase the message in the track. This is one of the tracks that shows the similarity to Jill Scott as it has the same kind of self confidence feel about it. A great track.
7. Stars - Kindred the Family Soul, Dantzler, Fatin
This has a great musical opening with keyboards and then the beat comes in, Aja opens the vocals with another great natural vocal and the gentle guitar soars in the background. This is not quite as good as Far Away but it is another indication of the duo's talent.
8. I Am - Kindred the Family Soul, Graydon, Aja
This track features Jazmine Sullivan and is a gentle track with Aja sounding a lot like Lauryn Hill with a very expressive clear vocal. Jazmine Sullivan sounds a little like Deborah Cox without the vocal power. I Am is another great track which fits well around the rest of the album.
9.) Family Song (Reprise) - Kindred the Family Soul, Eyen, Tom
Although this one is very short it's still worth listening to a lot.
This opens with an acapella from Aja and Fatin and they are joined by the backing. This is a fabulous reprise with has a Gospel feel. A brilliant acapella.
10.) What Happens Now - Kindred the Family Soul, Dantzler, Fari
This track has elements of Jill Scott but also a little bit of Angie Stone, This is a track that opens with Aja on vocals with Fatin promting her. Both singers again put in a fine vocal performance. Whilst not up there with the best tracks this is another fine track.
11.) Meant to Be - Kindred the Family Soul, Dantzler, Fatin
This starts like it is one of the more mellow tracks on the album. A lovely soft bass guitar comes in to start the track and then the drum beat comes in and makes this a really catchy uptempo track about how they are meant to be together. Both vocal performances are fabulous and Fatin shows off the power in his voice with a passionate performance.
12. Contentment - Kindred the Family Soul, Graydon, Aja
This is a soft gentle track which features soulful guitar and a gentle percusive drum beat. Aja opens up with the first lyrics and she gives a really emotive performance with a very sweet vocal which has both beauty and grace. I love the backing vocals on this track and this is one of the best tracks on the album.
13.) Spread the Word - Kindred the Family Soul, Dantzler, Fatin
This is a Gospel tinged track which has a feel akin to Kirk Franklin, It opens with a funky soul feel. Fatin is the main vocalist on the track and his vocals move through the song well until Aja comes in with an equally flowing vocal then back to Fatin and the saxaphone comes in for a very interesting mix with the funk of the bass guitar. One of the best tracks musically.
14.) If I - Kindred the Family Soul, Dantzler, Fatin
At 7 minutes long If I is the longest track on the album and it's also one of the best. Aja is the main vocalist here and her vocals move along well with the music which features piano, keyboards, drums and various other instruments in the background coming in like the Saxaphone.
15.) Don't Wanna Suffer (Carbon Copy) - Dantzler, Fatin
This is a funky fast paced track with Fatin on the main vocals. His vocal performance is stunning with a powerful Gospel like voice. Aja then comes in with a rapid fire vocal that shows off her ability with fast singing. One of the funkiest tracks on the album and also one of the best.
16.) Party's Over - Kindred the Family Soul, Dantzler, Fatin
This is a funky track featuring Flo Brown and Malik E, This is the only track on the album that features a rap. This track has a superbly rythmic melody to it and is one of the catchiest on the album and is a worthwile uptempo track.
17.) Freedom - Kindred the Family Soul, Dantzler, Fatin
This is a fantastic track which starts out with an acapella from both of them, Aja sounds a lot like Lauryn Hill on this track. I feel as good as this track is it would be even better if it was a full length song as opposed to a short interlude.
18. Rhythm of Life - Kindred the Family Soul, Dantzler, Fatin
This is a fantastic way to end the album, Another example of the exceptional way the two blend together. Aja again opens the vocals to soon be joined by Fatin's powerful vocals. They could go on and on singing and their voices would not suffer.
An amazing debut album from a rare husband and wife duo. They both have the talent to go it alone but they obviously love recording music together and it shows in their music. If you are unlucky enough to have not heard of them then check them out and you should not be dissapointed. A must listen if you like Neo Soul stars like Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Angie Stone. I have heard some stuff from their new album and it sounds even better than some of Surrender to Love.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Surrender To Love
3 Rhythm Of Life
4 Far Away
5 Weather The Storm
6 We feat. Ursula Rucker
7 Stars Edited
8 I Am feat. Jazmine Sullivan
9 Family Song reprise
10 What Happens Now
11 Meant To Be
13 Spread The Word
14 If I
15 Entertain The Peoplez interlude
16 Don't Wanna Suffer (Carbon Copy)
17 Party's Over feat. Flo Brown and Malik B
19 Clap Your Hands interlude
20 Rhythm Of Life (King Britt Remix Radio Edit)