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When I was a kid I thought soul music was for people who didn’t have souls. Weird, I know. Of course I was wrong. There’s something so inherently sad yet hopeful about it; a quality that seems to inspire people. I guess that’s what the soul is all about – the ability to feel inspired and in turn inspire others as well on a level that is neither physical, mental or emotional. That’s how I feel when I listen to Much Respect, the new EP from Normanton Street.

Normanton Street 2

The invigorating soul and passionate hip-hop of Normanton Street is ridiculously smooth. Their new EP is full of inspired slow jams and fantastic vocal deliveries.

Hailing from Brighton (that’s in the UK, for you kids who haven’t brushed up on your geography), Nicholson Davids, Phoebe Freya and Ned Archibong make up the dynamic fusion of soul and hip-hop that is Normanton Street. Forming in 2011 the trio have released three recordings and Much Recpect is a great place to get yourself acquainted with their magical musical fusion.

The EP is quite slick, very cleanly produced and as expected with this kind of genre, the music is kept nice simply to keep the focus on the messages in the lyrics. Each track is carried by the deep grooving bass; regardless of what else is going on in the track the bas will take you by the hand and lead to you on a journey full of wonder and possibilities.

Props to Phoebe, whose alluring and controlled vocals are truly magnetic. Her voice is ridiculously smooth, whether she is taking the lead on the gorgeous This Wolf or singing back up vocals on Grass is Greener (Nico Rhythm), her presence on each track truly shines through and is a delight to sit back and listen to. Nicholson and Ned meanwhile kill it with their relaxed yet attentive rhymes carry a lot of spirit and passion. New Day displays this in exemplary fashion, a meditation on the simple things in life and the small victories and defeats that define it.

No Drama is a chilled out affair punctuated nicely with a saxophone to delve into the band’s sultry jazz side. Phoebe’s vocals are on point again until the song switches to her rapping band mates, drastically shifting the song’s gears and giving it a more high energy feel. What is great is that the message and overall tone is not lost during the vocal switcheroo, each vocal carrying over the themes of heartbreak and learning to trust.

The boys are determined not to let their female vocalist completely steal the show, Nicholson and Ned letting their poetry fly on Rakim (The 26th Year), a fun track ruminating on times past. But as I mentioned before, Phoebe’s vocals on This Wolf is stunning. The way she sings is so understated, she croons her way towards your melting heart, the single strumming guitar keeping this affair nice and sparse.

What is the soul? Who knows, but listening to Much Respect certainly feels like a good way to connect with one. The trio’s sophisticated song writing ability and steady execution have produced a memorable EP and the perfect soundtrack for your relaxed Sunday evening.

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November 5, 2014