Technically this week's album of the week has actually been out since summer 2020 in its original format, but Joy Denalane is new to me. So when I got the opportunity to have a preview ‘Let Yourself Be Loved – Deluxe Edition,’ out September 3 on Lesedi / Motown Records; a version with five previously unreleased tracks on it's official UK release, I jumped at the chance!
To those of you who are also new to Joy Denalane, she is referred to as Germany’s undisputed Queen of Soul, turns out that there is no pomp in this statement. It's a title she lives up to.
You can hear the influences of the all of the greats of the genre from Ross to Wonder, Gaye to Sledge they're all in there. But this is a soul album with a modern, contemporary feel leaving the listener so full of emotion that it's going to be hard for the hardest of hearts not to be moved by this record.
If soul is your jam, then I can guarantee that this album will make your heart soar, your soul ache and you will fall in love with the genre all over again. 'Let Yourself Be Loved' is unequivocally the perfect soul album.
The arrangements on each track are stunning and it's no real surprise when you see Denalane worked with Roberto Di Gioia - one of the world’s most renowned jazz pianists (Johnny Griffin, Art Farmer and Woody Shaw).
If you've not heard the originally released tracks then for me the highlights are definitely, ‘I Believe’, a duet with former Motown artist BJ The Chicago Kid (that bass line is just incredible) and 'Love Your Love' which has a real Diana Ross feel to it.
The five new bonus tracks in the re-release are funk driven ‘Use Me’; ‘Still It Ain’t You’; ‘The Show,’ neo-soul at its best; ‘Forever’ (leaves me sobbing every time I hear it); and it ends with another timeless track ‘Give and Take’.
“I wanted to make a classic soul album,” says Joy. “Stylistically I was looking for inspiration from the period around the end of the 1960s to 1973” – [a period which represents an important turning point for the genre, in which soul surpassed itself musically and finally became a socio-political force with significant impact]"What was important to me was the sound and the feeling, a search for myself. Where do I come from, what defines me, what’s left when I leave everything else out? I can feel my own pain, my rage, my despair and vulnerability very clearly on this record,” she says. “This music brings these feelings to light and channels them even more than the previous records.”
The press release mentioned that the addition of the new tracks makes this the perfect soul record - I'm not going to argue. It's a stunning album.
Summing this album up in one word - Sublime
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