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REVIEW: Stac – Turn That Light Out

21/06/2010

For those who like their soul music cool, calm and collected, let me introduce you to Stac (aka Stacey Dowdeswell). The British singer/songwriter has been on the periphery for some time now, contributing tracks to Wah Wah 45’s compilations, being a regular at OneTaste events, and most recently appaearing alongside Alice Russell at her sold-out Union Chapel shows, it is now time for her debut album to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. If there is a god, then Turn That Light Out should elevate Stac’s status from ‘One To Watch’ to ‘Essential’ in every soul-lover’s collection.

Get rid of the paper, it’s upside down, you can’t hide from me i know you inside out. Can read you like a book, sonny do you have the balls to surprise me? – Stac ‘Ball Bounce’

The album has a down-tempo vibe, at times swinging from soul to to a sort of dusty folk/blues, all the while accompanied by Adam Scrimshire’s guitar and a variety of other understated live instrumentation. For me this album was released at just the right time and was a very welcome relief from the electronic/digital sounds that currently abound. The real highlight of the abum are Stac’s powerful, yet subdued vocals, especially on album highlights ‘Balls Bounce’, ‘Glory’ and the fantastic cover of ‘Cry For Me’ (which on paper should not work). It is also worth mentioning here Stac’s ‘choir’ of backing vocalists (12 in total), who really add another dimension to many of the tracks.

The aforementioned ‘Balls Bounce’ was the song that first drew me to Stac late last year, the of of frustration with a lover in a stale, stagnant relationship perfectly illustrates Stac’s flair for songwriting and arranging (a common thread throughout all 9 original compositions). Another favourite is the reggae-flavoured ‘Straingers’, a one-sided love story set on a train. In a way this track brings to mind some of the current crop of brit-pop females (Lily Allen/Kate Nash) with it’s very British style and sound, however I will add that here the writing is better and the vocals are far superior.

‘All Or Nothing’ throws a little jazz into the mix and is the perfect accompaniment to those lazy summer days we are all yearning for, whereas ‘Whoops’ stands out as the only real up-tempo track and sees Stac giving DJs something to spin on the weekends.

I will stick my neck out and say that for me this is definitely the best debut album I’ve heard in 2010, and I’m sure it will be in heavy rotation for months years to come. With the right promotion and support from the public Stac could easily become a household name and help fly the flag for brit-soul both here and abroad, her fresh take on modern soul music should be a welcome alternative to the over-saturated, mediocre retro soul that seems to be clogging up the UK’s commercial soul-system.

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