Alexis P. Suter
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2005, Volume 12, #3
Written by John Metzger
Shuga Fix, the magnificent debut from Alexis P. Suter, very well may be the perfect remedy for everything that currently ails contemporary R&B. Though several tracks are sprinkled with hip-hop grooves and others are shaded with the broad brush strokes of gospel, blues, rock, pop, jazz, and psychedelia, the album’s heart is a passion-filled fusion of classic soul sensations that draws as liberally from the ’60s works of Solomon Burke, Sam Cooke, Nina Simone, Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, Mavis Staples, and Aretha Franklin as it does from the ’70s efforts of Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, Sly Stone, and Parliament-Funkadelic, Indeed, Suter knows her music history, and she’s not afraid to use it to her advantage, mixing and matching each influence with supreme authority. In the opening 15 minutes, she slathers All Night Long’s elastic, rhythmic loop with horn-splattered punctuation; saunters dreamily through the smooth, sweet melody of Love?; and slips from Never’s sensitive, earthy soul into a Beatles-etched kaleidoscope of carnival sounds, while lyrically she combines raw sexuality, social commentary, and naked vulnerability to form a seamless collage. What makes Shuga Fix such a treat, however, is Suter’s deep, husky voice. Hers is an instrument so rich, full, and vibrant that she’s able to deliver Teacher Man’s lusty refrains, sing the topical Political Song with somber introspection, and growl her way through a gritty cover of Robert Johnson’s Rollin’ and Tumblin’ — all without skipping a beat. In recent years, only Macy Gray has possessed the same genuine, soul-saving star power as Suter, and not surprisingly, Shuga Fix offers a similarly irresistible blend of poetic poignancy and modern day nostalgia. The difference, however, is that Suter seems far more grounded in her endeavors and thus provides a bit more hope that R&B will be saved from the emotionless personalities that are currently being manufactured in the corporate board rooms of the major labels. ˝
Shuga Fix is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box