jean wells

Album Review: Soul on Soul (Deluxe Edition) - Jean Wells

I'm sure I point this out every year but December onwards always tends to see a dearth of decent music releases as the industry focuses on milking the valuable casual market for Christmas. The result is all X Factor, greatest hits compilations and deluxe reissues of the year's best (selling) albums.

Soul on Soul is a re-release, albeit one selected from an artist who deserves more exposure rather than less for once. Wells was never a massive star in her own time - her biggest single was the desperate and lovelorn 'Have a Little Mercy', which reached number 25 in the R&B charts on release in 1967. But her voice simply boasts bags of soul, and these songs always leave the gloves off.

Whether it is wallowing in the depths of emotion, as on the aforementioned 'Have a Little Mercy' or the similarly themed 'Sit Down and Cry', or being forthright and commanding respect Wells' songs are beautiful and gloriously sung. ’Somebody's Been Loving You (But It Ain't Been Me)’ is a brilliant example of the latter - a slamming put down to a cheating partner, Wells making it clear that she hasn't had anywhere near enough (ahem) attention lately.

Particularly mind-blowing is the synthesiser backed 'Roll Up Your Sleeves, Come Out Lovin' (Winner Takes All)’. Recorded in the early seventies it feels like a rough take on 80s disco but the fuzzy charm of the bass line gives it an incredible grounded feel. Best of all is 'What Have I Got To Lose', a soaring, string-led epic Philly soul joint that is all butterflies and sunshine of spring love - the all too short moment of contemplation before making your move on a new love.

If, like me, Christmas tends to drive you loopy with the disposability of it all then you could do much worse than keep this on standby throughout the next five weeks.

BP x

Soul on Soul is out now on BBE, available from on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].