We just can’t get enough of that Motown sound. From the late, great Amy Winehouse‘s Back To Black — a journey through ’60s pop — to Plan B‘s reinvention as a soul man for his sophmore effort The Defamation Of Strickland Banks, we can’t help but consume this music with wild abandon. We love it. How has it endured in the hearts and minds of so many for so long? Only the Gods know, but one thing we can be sure of is that we need some Soul music a la Stax with a dash of Motown, and we need it now…
Enter Lauren Housley.
The singer/songwriter from Yorkshire is a real talent with an incredible voice reminiscent of Dusty Springfield. Her debut EP One Step Closer is that rarest of things, a throwback that gets it right. For every Winehouse and Plan B out there, there are countless others who attempt and fail at recreating the magic of that Motown sound, but Housley shows that she can bring authenticity without sacrificing freshness. In that regard the EP could be compared to Raphael Saadiq‘s The Way I See It, as both are albums so true to the music from where they drew their inspiration that they could almost have been recorded over 50 years ago.
Recorded at Cotton Mouth Studios over a mere three days, the six-track EP covers the width and breadth of soul music, boasting a brilliantly raw feel and featuring work from some of Manchester’s best musicians. There are tracks that pay homage to the melancholy of Otis Redding‘s later work, and others that nod to the fun and energy of a Temptations track. Through all this, Lauren manges to express her own identity through the music.
I was fortunate enough to see Ms. Housley perform during a One Step Closer launch event, and her voice is as powerful and subtle as you hear in the recordings, if not even more so. Seeing her live allows you to really appreciate the fullness and texture of her sound, while also being hypnotised by her commanding stage presence.
Though it seems I’ve heralded her as the next great soul act, Housley refuses to pigeonhole herself, displaying a versatility in her songwriting that suggests that she has a long career ahead of her.
In short, you should probably get on it.