Mark Rae

Rae Road

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Best known for his part in the surname-studded hip-hop duo with Steve Christian, Mark Rae walks alone on this, his much vaunted and legendarily delayed debut solo album. Two years in the making and the resultant body of work is perhaps surprisingly more sulphuric soul than sleepwalking beats, twisting through a series of upbeat themes. From the opening mischievousness of the Scruff-esque "Lobster," the album quickly turns to the poppy R&B of "Lavish" before flipping a head-nodder and ducking into the strung-out shop doorway of "Skio." This mix-and-match approach works well, echoing his selection for the Ordered From the Catalogue compilation, deriving genuine pleasure from offering something for everyone, whether it's the Kinobe chill of "Bamburgh Dunes," the uptown ragga of the Joseph Cotton-lyriced "Candystripe," or the closing sweet soul of Spikey Tee -- it's all loaded with an infectious enthusiasm which amounts to a grand album indeed.

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