MARCEL AND THE TRUTH; Basement Boys
HOPES TOO HIGH
In a time when the music industry has grown too smart for itself, when radio is filled with overproduced, mechanical songs that are more about attitude than music, a casual listener would be led to believe that organic soul music no longer existed. And that's what makes an album like Hopes Too High that much more special. Sounding like they simply grabbed their instruments in a club and started playing, Marcell & the Truth deliver a stunning set of songs here that are equally inspired and inspiring. The group effecively mixes elements of jazz, soul and blues, sounding like the rightful heirs of Frankie Beverly and Maze, but with slightly rougher edges. And while the disc consists mostly of midtempo numbers and relatively simple arrangements, it never sounds repetitive or stale. To the contrary, the simplicity makes it more effective, allowing a bluesy guitar riff or a mournful organ note to alone carry the moment, and bringing even more attention to the fourteen excellent compositions that comprise Hopes Too High. Kudos to producer Teddy Douglas, who makes all the right moves in matching musical moods to lyrical content, from the innocent vocal harmonies of the title cut to the almost eerie tension (reminiscent of the the Dramatics' "In the Rain") underlying the break-up song "Maybe I'm Not the Man" to the joyous build-up throughout the standout track "Time Stops."
There will be many more popular and more critically trumpeted albums in 2007 than Hopes Too High, but it will be tough to find many that are better. This is a nearly timeless disc that would have been as notable in 1977 as it is in 2007. But by any measure, it is a keeper -- as are Marcell & the Truth. Very highly recommended.
-Chris Rizik soultracks.com
I know the Basement Boys label, but I don’t know Marcel and the Truth. If I didn’t know better I’d suggest that the great David Peaston has morphed into Marcel Russell, the lead singer here. Russell, you see, has one of those huge gospel reared voices that can do both whispers and screams with pure soul beauty. Hear that to best effect on this album’s title cut. “Hopes Too High” is simply one of the best real soul ballads I’ve heard this year. Boasting
gentle Temptations style harmonies, the song has lovely melody and a delicious hook in the title line and Marcel plays it to perfection. There’s lots more great balladry here to notably “Maybe I’m Not The Man” (with a hint of “In The Rain”), “Time Stops” and “Its Been Too Long”. The best up-tempo cut is the wah-wah led ”Evil Woman”, while “Please Come Down” is a gentle mid-tempo shuffle. The opener “Never Leave You Lonely” is another delicious mid-tempo beater, while for classic old school soul testifying try ”Coming Home To You”. I loved that one, but in honesty I kept
coming back to “Hopes Too High” its just one of those great
recordings that only real soul people connect with. I guess you are so this is for you - honest
-Bill Buckley (Blues and Soul Magazine UK)