(Dome Records/MVKA Music)
The more you hear this performer, the more you realise that ‘class’ is the main element of the music he creates and the way that he does it. There is a certain elegance to his phrasing that is precise without sounding cold, at times earthy without being base or crude. What Shaun Escoffery isn’t is as important as what he is. He isn’t shouty.
First and foremost to acknowledge in reviewing this release is the quality of the songs. Every one has an identity and vibe and the latter can run from strident soul to gentle balladry, His co-writer on many is multi-instrumentalist Gil Cang (any relation to Jo? another great writer) and there is one version namely ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’. There are various contributors on vocal and instrumental parts and I even spotted keys man Mick Talbot in the credits.
‘Healing Me’ is a cruise of a song, steady tempo and melody with a beautifully-paced vocal. Sounds very radio-friendly. There is a slight tinge of Johnny Guitar Watson in the tone of the singing, though I have no idea whether Shaun listens to his records.
‘When The Love Is Gone’ has chattery guitar and chilled strings, seems a very definite attempt to get a Chic ambience here, folks. A touch of falsetto works well.
‘Evergreen’ has co-singer Joss Stone aboard and ticks every box a soul song needs from its piano and wah guitar intro to its Andrew Roachford tempo, ace bridge and spot-on vocal duo. Al Green needs to steal this song!
‘Love Shine Down’ is a tad gospelly and is for Staples fans, I suggest; ‘Gave Me Love’ has a winsome intro and mood before settling into an almost Al Jarreau groove with more impassioned singing by Escoffery; ‘Barricades’ is solemn but with a lively drum pattern and tremelo’d guitar, a neatly constructed song. ‘Ain’t No Time’ hits a spacey vibe from the off and sustains the mood, with a lyric reflecting a love of Marvin and concern for the world.
‘Live Your Life’ is laidback and reflective and yes, he can do this, too. ‘Teachers’ is a semi-baroque intro’d song with one of the best vocals here, made to seem effortless.
‘Win Again’ brings out the Memphis church organ chords; ‘Into the Night’ is the most memorable song here, understated and a rich arrangement. ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’ features Andreya Triana. I happen to do this song, with a Byrdsian slant, but here Escoffery takes the soft acoustic route. It sounds good, as does the vocal of Ms Triana. Twilight music.
‘Lost For Words’ completes the collection, taking its time and featuring a nice reverbed guitar part. I can spot an Isleys nod when I hear one!
As with all albums now, a track or two too long but this record showcases a first-class singer playing to his strengths. No wonder he is a popular performer.
Shaun Escoffery’s new album ‘Evergreen’ is out now on Dome Records/MVKA Music.
For tour dates and more info, head over to www.shaunescoffery.com