Angel Rissoff

Nu Soul Stew

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The title Nu Soul Stew implies that Bronx native Angel Rissoff is part of neo-soul, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing; some seriously talented vocalists came out of neo-soul in the 1990s and 2000s (Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and Jaguar Wright, among others). But this 2008 release has been inspired by classic soul rather than neo-soul; Rissoff's musical stew is best described as classic soul with a rock edge and a healthy appreciation of electric urban blues. And the singer is pleasingly unpredictable; stylistically, Rissoff is all over the place when it comes to celebrating the R&B and blues of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The relaxed "Ain't No Big Thing" is 1960s-minded Northern soul, but Rissoff turns to 1960s Southern soul of the Stax Records/Otis Redding/Wilson Pickett/Sam & Dave variety on more hard-edged offerings such as "Cry to Me," "Hold On," and the William Bell-associated "Never Like This Before" (which is from the Isaac Hayes/David Porter songbook). Rissoff flirts with New Orleans-minded R&B on "Geneve," while "Tears of Joy" is 1950s-style doo wop. The New Yorker moves into jump blues territory on "Boogie Down Bronx," and the blues factor is also strong on "One More Heartache" (which combines classic soul with a touch of Howlin' Wolf) and "Snows of July" (which favors a bluesy take on 1970s funk). On the whole, Nu Soul Stew has more to do with R&B than with the blues, but there is enough of a blues influence on this 49-minute CD to attract blues audiences -- and besides, soul singers have been in heavy demand on the blues circuit for a long time. Put the expressive Rissoff on-stage at the Chicago Blues Festival in Grant Park (or any other important blues-oriented gathering), and he would fit right in. This solid effort is easily recommended to classic soul and urban blues enthusiasts.

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