Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators: No One’s Gonna Love You + Soul Investigators Theme
From Keep Reachin’ Up (Timmion, 2005)

You need this album. You just do.

I’d say – “I slept on this” – but in all fairness, even if the album came out in 2005, it’s on a Swedish Finnish label that had limited U.S. distribution and it didn’t hit my radar until Seattle’s Light In the Attic picked it up (note: my radar = not that wide though). If you were already up on this from jump, then you’re lucky enough to have been enjoying this for a minute. If you hadn’t heard this album until now, then consider your day greatly improved by discovering an album that, as noted, you need.

I’m willing to go on record as saying that this among the best “nuevo-soul/funk” albums I’ve ever heard (a field that may seem small but actually covers a lot of ground including Sharon Jones, the Dap-Kings, The Whitehead Brothers, El Michels Affair, etc. What distinguishes it is how versatile both Willis and the S.I. are: there’s a real attempt at covering a range of R&B eras/styles here – not just the JB/Marva Whitney/Lyn Collins era of the late ’60s but there’s nods to the pop sound of early ’60s girl groups (“My Four Leaf Clover”), Brook Benton-esque crossover soul of the mid-60s (“A Perfect Kind of Love”), the lush, heavily produced style of ’70s soul (“Feeling Free”), and a few tracks that I don’t even know how to classify (“If This Ain’t Love”). I don’t think Willis has as strong a voice as someone like Jones but in terms of her ability to adapt to different styles, she does a fantastic job here and her songwriting also seems a step stronger.

The two songs I picked out are my favorites – both highlight the strength of the Soul Investigators chops as a band, especially their “Theme” which has this beautifully dreamy vibe to it but as good as that is, I’m even a bigger fan of “No One’s Gonna Love You” which takes a great song and then pushes it up a notch with a chorus that’s unexpected and for that reason, completely delightful.

Did I mention, you need this album? Yeah, ok.

Speaking of mind-blowing, I just posted this to Soul Sights, but fortheloveofgod, you have to check out this video of New Edition playing “Candy Girl”. I n c r e d i b l e.