'Pieces' is the highpoint of the album, an instantly catchy track with touching lyrics...
Greg Boraman 2003-01-29
Following on from the success of the new classic soul artists like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Angie Stoneet al, Hil St. Soul (pronounced Hil Street Soul)come back with their second album Copasetik & Cool, and a quality collection it is too.
Fronted by vocalist, Zambian born Hilary Mwelwa, this latest release displays the usual rootsy and mildly retro template forged by those above artists but mixes it up with a subtle but undeniably British sensibility.
With highly renowned producer Victor Redwood-Smith supplementing Hilary's own song writing skills, Hil St. Soul manages to mix the retro influences with a very fresh sound that should appeal to old soul-boys and younger beat-heads alike. The mix of acoustic instrumentation along with the particularly solid drum programming manages to encapsulate the last 30 years of soul music without sacrificing too much to the past or present.
Hilary's voice has a unique quality that sets her apart from her contemporaries, without any particular influences coming to the fore; if she sounds like anyone, Randy Crawford is the only singer that she bears even the slightest resemblance to vocally (She also shares an equally dazzling smile).
The British feel of this outfit is perfectly illustrated in the lyrics and song titles: "All that (and a bag o' chips)" is a sentiment that could only originate within UK shores.
The musical highlights are many including a brilliantly executed cover version of The Isleys' "For the Love of You" which manages to sweep along without making the listener hark back to the original, and that's a rare feat.
Melodically, the track "Pieces" is the highpoint of the album, an instantly catchy track with touching lyrics that seem borne of real experience rather than the usual well-worn love song clichés.
On the strength of this collection, Hil St. Soul deserve to move on to greater commercial success and credibility. It's rare in the soul arena for UK based acts to genuinely give the Americans a run for their money, but Hil St Soul seem on track to do just that.