When a debut album is as promising as Soul II Soul's Keep on Movin', there are always fears of a sophomore slump -- meaning that the second album won't live up to the promise of the first. But Vol. II: 1990, A New Decade, Soul II Soul's sophomore album, isn't the least bit disappointing. Although Keep on Movin' (which was titled Club Classics, Vol. 1 in England) remains the British outfit's most essential release, this is an excellent follow-up. Soul II Soul suffered a major loss when singer Karon Wheeler left to pursue a solo career after Keep on Movin'; it was a major blow, but certainly not a fatal one. Jazzie B.'s collective fares well without her on sleek urban/dance/neo-soul grooves like "Missing You" (which boasts a guest appearance by British dance diva Kym Mazelle), "People," and the haunting "A Dream's a Dream." Jazzie realized that Wheeler's departure was a big loss for Soul II Soul, and when the time came to record a second album, he filled the void by featuring talented, expressive female vocalists such as Victoria Wilson-James, Lamya, and Marcia Lewis. However, not every tune on this CD employs a vocalist. "Courtney Blows" (just to give one example) is an acid jazz instrumental that features British jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine; the tune isn't hard bop or straight-ahead jazz, but it's a pleasing example of dance music with jazz overtones. Again, Keep on Movin' is Soul II Soul's most essential album, but Vol. II: 1990, A New Decade is also well-worth the price of admission.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson