Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ephraim Lewis - Skin (1992)

Although more people today might know (or remember) British soul singer Ephraim Lewis for the freakish circumstances surrounding his death (even now nobody knows whether or not if it was a suicide or if the L.A.PD instigated his murder), I think more people should be interested in the one and only album he had released mere months before his demise: an excellent, underrated set of songs on a little record called Skin.

Often compared (somewhat unfairly in my opinion) to Seal and Terrence Trent D'Arby's output in the neo-soul spectrum, I can safely say this music here possesses an eclectic identity all its own. For one thing, the jazz influences throughout are very strong: you'll hear sax and horns almost as often as you'll hear guitar and hip-hop beats. Lewis's voice is also a bit harder to categorize - he's got just as much Sam Cooke in there as he has Michael Jackson and Al Green, and thus he handles everything from club material to gospel to blues to electric funk with unbelievable ease.

That said, my favorite cuts here are the atmosphere-laden title track, Quiet Storm staple 'Drowning In Your Eyes' (the album's only big radio hit) and Stevie Wonder-esque 'World Between Us', but considerng how good all ten songs are its more likely that not that my favorites could change over time.

Fans of 90's neo-soul, rare gems and just damn fine music in general have quite the feast with baby on their queue. R.I.P. Ephraim!

Listen Here - "Captured"

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