Monday Michiru

4 Seasons

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This two-CD set from Monday Michiru compiles a handful or so tracks from her four seasonal EPs and fills it out with new music exclusive to this album. And what an album it is. There are 20 tracks that cover a range of styles from bossa nova to soul to jazz (both trad and acid) to pop and beyond. If she never released another record, this one ensures her place -- even if Americanskis have no idea who she is and she's one of their own. Think Sade with a wider range, or Lauryn Hill if she didn't have to rely on hip-hop to get over, or Erykah Badu with more musical diversity, and you still can't come up with the entire picture. Michiru may have come up with the acid jazz generation that launched the Brand New Heavies, but musically she's left them all behind. Here is a woman whose vocal and songwriting chops are so far above her peers she can't get a record deal in the U.S. From the sparkling soul meets bossa of "Fallin'" (on which Michiru plays a killer flute solo), to the lush, emotional jazzscape of "Afternoon Dream," to the "Barefoot and Pregnant" version of "Chasin' After the Sun," with its slippery, airy funk, to the shimmering torchy grace of "Something to Believe In," to the LaBelle-driven funk & roll of "Do It Again," Michiru covers all the vocal bases and digs deep into enough emotional soundscapes to lend her adventurous nature weight and dimension. There isn't a singer on either side of the globe who has this much class or natural ability and who uses it this beautifully. Brilliant and moving.

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