Soulfully Now

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In 1996, Philippine band Mulatto released Soulfully Now. Mulatto consists of eight members, which include four vocalists (one of whom is female), a bassist, guitarist, drummer, and keyboardist. Having a strong presence on the album is the guest horn section of Philippine jazz ensemble Ugoy-Ugoy. Mulatto's sound is steeped in soul, and the album opens on the soulful vibes of "Move It." The song starts on a strong horn punctuation and moves to a tuneful walking bassline as the crackle of wah-wah guitar is heard. The horn section plays swing-styled riffs over a disco-inflected backbeat, and female vocalist Kearney Lising sings an upbeat, sinuous tune. "Nang Tumugtog" (When My Music Starts Playing) is another dance-inflected tune and features a string section (presumably played on synthesizer)reminiscent of the strings heard on 1970s soul records produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, purveyors of the legendary Philadelphia sound. "Give Me More Lovin'" is obviously patterned on Barry White's great 1970s hit "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe." A male Mulatto singer starts the song by talking in a deep, sexy voice -- a la White -- and the song gains momentum as the singer croons compellingly in an exaggerated deep voice. "Full Circle" is a tender love song. The propelling force behind Mulatto is Jun Lacanienta, who, besides playing keyboards, has a strong songwriting presence, and also produced the album and arranged all songs. This is an interesting album, though stronger melodies would give the songs more staying power. In addition, the often tuneless, thin singing of Lising grates on one's nerves.

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