Seattle's own soul brothers, Maktub, are back with their new CD Say What You Mean (Velour records) - a disc comprised of silky tunes featuring the sound that has defined the band's neo-urban mystique for the past ten years. Formed in 1995 by singer Reggie Watts, Davis Martin on drums, and Kevin Goldman on bass, the band's current lineup also includes Daniel Spills on keys and Thaddeus Turner on guitar.

The band successfully blends soul, R&B, funk, hip-hop, and jazz into a rich mix of highly danceable numbers and stirring emotional ballads. This set of tunes is not only musical enough for serious fans, but also appears ready for serious commercial airplay.

The band shows their range with the catchy opening tune "Promise Me" in which Watts evokes the Brit-pop style of Dave Edmonds backed by a thumping, soulful undercurrent. The title track "Say What You Mean" is an upbeat ballad, where the band reaches back to the 70's soul-pop of the Commodores. Next up is "20 Years," a slower introspective ballad with Reggie really delivering the goods on this infectiously smooth groover. "Daily Dosage" is a hip-hop cooker with harder edges and drive, while "Hunt You Down" is smooth R&B pop, reminiscent of a song Al Green might have recorded.

The next song "Seeing is Believing" has a hook-laden rock beat and deliberate chorus that clearly jumps out at the listener. Next we find "Blown Away" featuring Watts on heavily manipulated vocals working over a swirling sound calling Peter Gabriel to mind, creating a magically hypnotic performance. "Feels Like Another One" brings more of the signature Maktub funky soul-pop love that they have built their castle on.

"Nobody Loves You Like I Do" has hit written all over it. Unbelievably beautiful vocals make this a highly accessible song that you just may be hearing on a radio near you. "Right to Breathe" is another ballad with socially-conscious lyrical content, which climbs to an emotional peak to close out the disc.

Reggie Watts is one of the finest singers to come out of the Great Northwest in a long time. His sweet yet soulfully rich voice reminds me of a cooler Hootie without the pretentious Blowfish. However, unlike Hootie, his creamy vocals radiate a heartfelt realness, and he owes quite a bit to the great soul singers of the earlier eras. If you like R&B that harkens back to 70's soul, Maktub brings it on with this wonderful disc.

Susan J. Weiand
JamBase | California
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[Published on: 4/24/05]

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