Music

Bluey: Leap of Faith

Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick may be a founding father of acid jazz, but with the release of Leap of Faith, he adds the title of soul legend to his portfolio.


Bluey

Leap of Faith

Label: Shanachie
US Release Date: 2013-03-26
UK Release Date: 2013-03-25
Amazon
iTunes

Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick is one soulful man. No wonder he's revered the way he is within the UK jazz/soul scene. He's been father and son to the scene for over 30 years. The years have been kind to him, and the kindness is reciprocated on his solo debut Leap of Faith. An undoubtedly listenable creation, Bluey has blended the club-infused soul-jazz sounds that made him famous with the sensibility of an elder statesman, which he is. And he's earned that title righteously, having worked with the likes of James Brown, Stevie Wonder, George Duke, and more in a long, drawn-out resume' of funky so-and-sos. Leap of Faith demonstrates what those star encounters impressed upon Maunick’s own flavor of music, making this solo effort a surprisingly original tribute to form, nodding to the masters of the past while carrying the torch the rest of the way.

Bluey's long-standing group Incognito famously picked up the ball and ran with it from the early '80s to 2012 with an impressive string of releases in the acid-jazz vein, a genre Maunick helped create. Musically, Leap of Faith isn't far removed from past Incognito releases. The main difference between Maunick's work with his band and this solo venture is the absence of female voices, and more presence of his tasteful guitar work. There's no major climactic highlight to report on one individual song here. Instead, it's one cohesive album that doesn't intrude into personal space... more so than any previous Incognito effort. If the band is the definition of acid-jazz, then Bluey solo is the epitome of metropolitan soul. This individual signature meshes the songs together matrimonially, from the opening track "Stronger" to the title track at the end of the disc. Therefore, the standard practice of reviewing individual tracks through a critical ear doesn't apply here. With Leap of Faith, you're along for the ride. Right on.

Maunick wears his influences on his sleeve on this outing, but that's not a bad thing. He effortlessly channels Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Ray Parker Jr. in his Raydio days, making this record an easy fit into any Sunday morning feel-good rotation. He doesn't disregard the club feeling within acid-jazz on Leap of Faith ("Ain't Nobody's Business" and "Why Did I Let You Go" tap into that house flavor), but the concentration here is on soul. And soul it is, from the music to the words. Lyrically, the songs rely heavily on cliché, turning standard R&B phrases as often as a drive-thru window attendant asks "would you like fries with that". With that said, it should also be considered that sometimes it's not what you say. It's how you say it. Bluey's subtlety in vocal delivery coupled with exquisite production values makes the predictability of verse more of an intuitive sing-along on the first listen, as if you've already heard these songs before... all of them. This makes for an extremely relaxing sonic journey... as comfortable as kicking back in a plush rocker-recliner with a built-in back massager. Ahh, and it feels so nice.

8

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.