ARTIST: BLUE SOUL TEN
ALBUM: The Ten Percent
Release Date: 09/13/19
Blue Soul Ten is getting ready to release his latest album, The Ten Percent, to radio. The former radio DJ has a very eclectic and wide range of styles including jazz, soul, hip-hop and reggae. His upcoming album confidently switches genres from one track to the next, and while the distances travelled can be great, The Ten Percent still manages to feel cohesive and whole.
The title track, “Ten Percent” immediately sets the tone with its smooth jazz vibes. While the instrumental gently invites and ushers the listener in, it never runs the risk of putting you to sleep. The polished production immediately lets you know you’re in good hands, with the perfect balance of drive and confidence.
“Give In To Me” offers the first real glimpse of what Blue Soul Ten has in store for listeners. Behind the velvet rope you are treated to a luxurious jazz-pop treat reminiscent of Sade, complete with that distinctive smoky vocal and a tasteful saxophone solo. The swirling electric piano hypnotizes throughout the song, or it could simply be the cocktail kicking in. Either way, it’s hard not to start swaying which is exactly what Blue Soul Ten is looking for.
“Make It Hot” gently shifts into hip-hop gear with featured vocals from Surron the Seventh. Blue Soul Ten is careful to keep one foot firmly in the soulful jazz-pop realm, however. The sharp verses add some teeth to the otherwise smooth production, and while it may head towards the far extreme of the jazz genre, “Make It Hot” knows it’s place and never jumps over the fence.
“Life” keeps the energy up and features some smooth female vocals I wish we knew who was singing. Blue Soul Ten clearly has strong production and songwriting skills and “Life” is a great example of how music can exist between genres and labels.
Upon first listen, “Satisfied” comes as a bit of a surprise. The reggae rhythm is quite a departure from the earlier album and while it’s not completely out of place, it does have a drastically different flavor. Blue Soul Ten serves up a guitar solo that wouldn’t be out of place on a Santana or Clapton track and compliments the featured vocals of Zahira quite nicely.
The guitar wizardly continues in a brief “10% Interlude.” Swirly keyboards and a driving percussion beat provide the perfect landscape for Blue Soul Ten to show off his six-string mastery without going overboard.
“Real Love” keeps the guitar in the spotlight and is another example of Blue Soul Ten’s ability to bring listeners with them when exploring every corner of the jazz-pop genre. Perhaps it’s the lingering reggae vibes from “Satisfied,” but I couldn’t help but hear Sting’s phantom voice on “Real Love.” It’s driven with the perfect amount of muscle, not showing off but getting the job done.
Blue Soul Ten returns to the hip-hop realm with “Purpose” and masterfully creates a space for featured vocalist IV to share some of the albums most thoughtful and powerful lyrics. “They want to be black until the cops pull them over” is one of those lines that hit you hard and sticks with you long after the track ends.
“These Words” explores some new territory with hints of EDM rhythms and beats, while never completely abandoning the smooth and soulful jazz landscapes Blue Soul Ten likes to dwell in. The female vocals are the real highlight here, providing the true heart and soul of the track.
“Grateful” brings us back to the center of the soulful jazz-pop genre. We’ve seen Blue Soul Ten flex his guitar muscles earlier in the album and the controlled acoustic guitar parts on “Grateful” are very tastefully done. Even when the distortion pedal is hit after the break, the guitar is never overpowering. Instead it serves to amplify the emotion of the track and keeps the spotlight focused on the singer. Now THAT is the sign of a skilled and mature producer.
“Blue Theme V” closes out the album and along with the first track, “Ten Percent,” acts as a perfect bookend for the release. There is no denying Blue Soul Ten’s talent as a songwriter and producer. This closing track features more of that sultry and soulful saxophone along with additional horns that keep the energy high right to the very end. And while the track certainly stands on it’s own, it really does an excellent job of anchoring the album as a whole, providing the listener with a refreshing moment before starting the record again, from the top.
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