The 2020 Vision label are right on the money once again with Dubble D's debut album...
Jack Smith 2005
Manchester-based producer Dubble D, or Danny Ward as the taxman knows him, is obviously passionate about his music. Raised on a diet of Miles Davis and Art Blakey, it's little wonder that Dubble D's stunning debut Reachin' Out is laced with jazzy undertones and burly beats.
But that's not how things initially start out - "Super Hi" and "Switch" owe more to the subtle loops, warm strings and sparse vocal snippets of label mate Fred Everything, and the nu-jazz beats of Compost respectively, then the roots of Blue Note. The latter, "Switch" features the soulful wailings of Flora Purim, and her daughter Diana Booker, whom add a perfectly languid delivery to match the swinging, yet relaxed production.
Similarly Canadian chanteuse Kate Rogers (of Rae & Christian fame) is implausibly chilled on the beat-led "Multiply". While Diane Charlemagne, the voice behind Goldie's "Inner City Life, stamps her mark on the warm, instinctively groovy, "Reach Out", and the bluesy "Rain".
The beats become deep and melodic on the hip-hop rhymes of the legendary JVC Force duo, Qball 'n' Curt Cazal (collectively QNC) on "Would You?". It's a nostalgic trip down memory lane to when MCs spoke volumes and misogyny, pimpin' and drugs had yet to dominate rapper's verses, "... what the hell happened to rap, answer that? Now everybody wanna pop sumthin' or cop sumthin'".
The instrumental cuts owe as much to this philosophy as the vocal offerings. "Squelch" in particular is a wonderfully simple, yet thoroughly absorbing, mid-tempo rattler combining go-go percussion with layers of warm chords and electronic melodies. While "Big Fish" opens out into lush down tempo beats overlaid with graceful strummed acoustic guitar and washes of distant horns, in what almost sounds like the cinematic opening theme to a French movie about doomed lovers.
Ward's debut collection clearly reflects a multitude of influences that converge to create a highly listenable oeuvre of rich textures and assured vocal performances that exude a rare blend of sultriness and innocence.