Record label: Island
Format: 2xLP/CD
Release date: 17 April 2001

Somewhere between the sensual attitude and deep bottom of house and the aggressive complexities of drum and bass lies the UK's burgeoning 2-step sound. MJ Cole is a key player within this scene. Not only is he schooled in the ways of booming sound systems and mixing studio tracks, but Cole also has a classical background in piano, violin, and oboe. His refined past can be heard in the opening loop of the "Introduction" as well as on "Strung Out" and the delicate plucks of strings that garnish various selections on this LP. Crisp beats and razor-sharp, woofer-threatening bass act as tour guides, leading us headfirst into future soul. Several vocalists spice things up including Elisabeth Troy, whose vocals demand the utmost attention (as proven on "Crazy Love," "I See," and "Hold On To Me"). MC Danny Vicious adds a rougher aspect to the album, keeping things underground with his quick, rugged delivery. Check "Bandolero Desperado," "Slum King," and the "MJ FM Interlude" for examples. In some ways, this album is an extension of a distinctly British aspect of soul, what groups like Loose Ends started and Soul II Soul and others continued. Sincere is musically and lyrically superb, bringing respect back to R&B. If there were a way to liquefy dance music, MJ Cole's works would be considered champagne. One could say that this is the most elegant dance record you'll hear all year.

{cali ginseng}

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