If you’re not already hipped to the vocal stylings of Carlton Jumel Smith from his pair of 45’s released on Timmion Records, then we highly suggest that you do so now so that you can be ready for the full soulful experience that will follow shortly after via his full length LP, “1634 Lexington Ave.” The material mined here is none other than the vintage groove troves of classic 1970’s r&b, something the Cold Diamond & Mink crew brews up effortlessly. The songwriting and expression by Carlton carry strong echoes of Curtom productions, Memphis soul and naturally Motown. We’re talking about musical traditions he’s incorporated into his expression since witnessing James Brown at the Apollo as an 8-year old.
Opening up with the dance floor ready testimony “Woman You Made Me”, Carlton sets the mood up good, whereas “Remember Me” delivers a devastating Chi-Town-styled group harmony groover. Fans of Menahan Street Band will get a kick out of the moody “Help Me (Save Me From Myself)”, which is followed by the beautiful deep “Ain’t That Love”, carried by an intimate folk guitar lick. The album’s b-side sequences the otherworldly shuffler “You Gonna Need Me” with Carlton’s rehash of his mid-Millennium release “I’d Better”, swapping its programmed modern soul for a more organic form.
On his album Carlton Jumel Smith explores different shades of the golden era of soul music, and it would be hard to find anyone doing it as fresh in 2019. You know those front to back soul album classics you treasure in your collection? This will stand up with the best of them.