Si Cranstoun “Modern Life”
Si Cranstoun is one of those hard working musicians who is finally beginning to see all his efforts over the years pay off. Having spent most of his life delivering his music to all that wanted to listen, either just on the streets of the UK or at numerous vintage events, he is now getting some wide spread commercial attention. Whilst he may have earned his name firstly in the vintage scene, his actual sound is far closer to the pure soul of the likes of Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke
We are introduced to Si with “Caught In The Moonlight” which is a song that sounds like a wonderful soul classic, the first of many to feature on the album. Songs like “Shout Out” and “Gods Of Love” have a sound and feel which is straight out of the glory days of Motown. Whilst “Never Gonna Let You Go” and “Being With You” have you recalling the great pop soul bands of the past like the Four Tops and their ability to deliver songs with such a sense of laid back ease.
The appreciation of the ‘vintage’ sound does come more to the fore on the title track “Modern Life”, which covers a ground somewhere between ragtime soul and rock n roll. Whilst “Tick Tock” serves as a good reminder that rock n roll originally had its roots in black rhythm and blues.
There is also a great mix of tempo on the album where “Cry Me A Smile” is a slowed down, soul crooner type of song. The beat is also kept more laid back on “Monica”, which is a tune that really allows the vocals to take centre stage.
It’s not all just about a ‘retro’ sound though, as perfectly demonstrated by the final track (excluding bonuses) “Like It Like That” which has a more contemporary feel to it. It’s still based on an old school soul sound but the production just has a more modern edge to it. As a bonus, we get a couple of covers in the shape of the classics “Twisting The Night” and “Build Me Up Buttercup”. A special mention has to go to the last of those, as it’s a song which is often wrongly regarded as a ‘throwaway’ soul track. In fact, it is just one of the finest pop songs ever written.
This album could easily just be filed under ‘retro’ or to be trendy ‘vintage’, but in fact it is an album full of great soul records. This is a sound which has a timeless and classic feel to it. It may not be new, different or alternative but it is heart-warming and fun. We also need new singers to introduce people to the great records of the past from the likes of Otis Redding and Smokey Robinson etc. The only criticism you could levy at the album is that it should’ve been released in the summer so it could accompany a bbq on a bright sunny afternoon. For now, however, you will just have to enjoy it whilst dreaming about next summer!