Bluey | Leap of Faith
By Brent Faulkner
Jazz/R&B musician Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick is best known as the founder of London acid-jazz/funk group Incognito. A guitarist, vocalist, producer, and composer, Bluey is additionally notable for collaborative efforts with Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, and George Benson among others. 2013s Leap of Faith is Bluey’s first solo album, released via Shanachie Records. On the 10-track, 45 minute effort, Bluey composes and produces the effort himself. He is assisted by engineers Mo Hausler (Björk) and Richard Bull (Acoustic Alchemy). Veteran musicianship and
experience by Mr. Maunick are easily perceptible over the course of Leap of Faith.
Always enjoyable, Leap of Faith possesses many notable tracks, including “Stronger”, “Got To Let My Feelings Show”, and “Take A Chance On Me”. Opener “Stronger” breaks into an electrifying soulful groove, prefaced by an intense, crescendoing sound effect. Bluey’s solid lead vocals are complemented by lush backing vocals during the latter half of the verses and the chorus. “Hang on in there baby / hang on in there…”, Bluey sings invitingly on the chorus. “Got To Let My Feelings Show” (video above), the effort’s second cut, embraces funkiness at its best, sporting a bite and brightness in timbre. Bluey vocally lays everything out there for
his lover, expressing “Got to let my feelings show / babe I’ve got to let you know / got to let my feelings show / no I can’t keep it in, no, no.” On “Take A Chance On Me”, Bluey sounds his jazziest , approaching his vocals playfully, embodying the riskiness of the track’s title. “Don’t close your heart to what could be / let me enter into your life / a life of love and ecstasy…”, he sings, genuinely attempting to coax his lover to ‘take a chance.’
Other moments also spark interest on Leap of Faith. “Ain’t Nobody’s Business But Mine” has a chilly, low-key vibe anchored by a dance-oriented groove; the only detraction is its near seven minute duration. “If You Really Wanna” bridges jazz, soul, and funk, highlighted by harmonized vamping backing vocals towards the end (“If you really wanna / get it together…”). “Live Like A Millionaire” proves to be bold and refreshing, initially mimicking the slick groove the
likes of The Isley Bros. (think “It’s Your Thing”) before developing into synth-driven sound and later a contrasting a cappella harmonized vocal timbre. “Keep Myself Together” shows off Bluey’s silky smooth vocals in the adult contemporary R&B style while “Sky” mixes ‘Stevie
Wonder’ sensibility with a Latin-infused groove and a bright, sunny sound. The penultimate “Why Did I Let You Go” sports house music cues blended with funk and 80s while the closing “Leap of Faith” features socially conscious, spoken word lyrics.
Overall, Leap of Faith proves itself as an enjoyable, well produced solo debut from Bluey. His musicianship shines from top to bottom with no deal-breaking misses to be found. Attaching an adjective such as ‘innovative’ might be an overstatement, but Bluey certainly delivers a
solid, consistent, and captivating effort that succeeds in blending several musical styles.
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