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Colour World Soul

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The British production and songwriting team of Tony Free and Merlin Garnett makes its full-length debut here with an unusually winning collection of modern house, breakbeat, and dubwise nu soul -- with event a hint of gospel thrown in here and there. Most dance albums sound, understandably enough, like they ought to be played in a smoky late-night club. But this one, with its frequently soft textures and subtle shades of color, works equally well on a good car stereo at sunset while you're driving home from work, or bubbling gently in the background while eating dinner with friends. "Colourworld," with its Brazilian percussion intro and broken beat main groove, is warm and funky without being overpoweringly booty-shaking; "Fling Up Your Wig" is a sort of house-reggae hybrid that features fine chatting by the two-woman crew known as KC Sista 2; "Feels Like Heaven" offers that gospel flavor courtesy of a smoky, down-tempo hip-hop groove and the soulful vocals of Sharon McKoy, whose voice also trips gracefully atop the Latin-garage bump of "Sugar Burn." Altogether, this is that rarest of dance albums -- one that reveals more music with repeated listens. Highly recommended.

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