Omar is most likely best remembered amongst the general populous for his timeless and still superb 1991 soulful hit, There’s Nothing Like This. Astonishingly he has endured a five-year recording break during which time he has constructed his own studio and established his own imprint. He as ever has constantly been touring and for some, the master musician has never really been away. Now Omar is back with Sing (If You Want It) which is the British soul supremo’s sixth and perhaps most smoothly produced album so far.
Omar has been championed by DJs including Ras Kwame who is also known as a producer and who has been given the hard task of raising the profile of UK soul on BBC 1Xtra and the Radio 1 slot previously occupied by the inimitable late John Peel. Sing (If You Want To) is everything you would expect from Omar and in its genre is one of the stand out mellow groovesome LPs that have been released so far this year. What looks like an expensively put together offering should bring Omar back to the limelight, and he seems ready to grasp that now.
01. Lift Off
02. Sing (If You Want It)
03. Be A Man ft. JC Bentley
04. Kiss It Right
05. Get It Together
06. Your Mess
07. All For Me ft. Angie Stone
08. It’s So…
09. Gimme Sum (Rap Version) ft. Common, Rodney P, Ashman, Canitbe
10. Feeling You ft. Stevie Wonder
11. Lay It Down ft. Estelle
12. I Want It
13. Stylin’ ft. Angie Stone
14. Ghana Emotion
The LP gets going with the sublime and headnoddingly seductive Lift Off, an all too short offering which is classic Omar and as such is ridiculously silky. The title track Sing follows which with its shuffling beat and heavy bassline makes for wonderful soul over which Omar easily but expressively drops his vocals ably backed up on the chorus. Be A Man comes next with JC Bently giving her all on the vocals. The production starts off simple, but increasingly Omar can’t leave the keys alone and interjects with jazz solo moog keys over the verses.
Kiss It Up is a simple back to roots bassline driven track which is funky in the extreme and needs to be set on repeat. Get It Together is classic Omar where he gets to warble as only he can, whereas Your Mess has a touch of the Jamiroquai’s about it.
The LP sees Omar collaborate with a variety of established acts from the likes of rapper / singer Estelle – on the evocative and downbeat anti-gun track Lay It Down, and for Hip Hop fans the major hook up with the biggest UK name there is Rodney P (ex London Posse / Riddim Killa / 1Xtra), who, as ever delivers in his unique vocal style on the ridiculously catchy Gimme Sum. Gimme Some also featues Chicago’s Common and a very yound sounding Ashman. All this makes for an interesting set of voices. The production still maintains elements of of Omars soul but also features classic sampled drum sounds and a Herbie Hancock type bassline.
Prior to Gime Some we are got into the mood with the big beated It’s So which is contrastingly upbeat with a double bass bassline. In the track Omar espouses his love for all types of music and says how he is affected by music. For home grown soul heads the mega Angie Stone graces the hybrid and slow tempo All For Me for some insights into love.
The biggest coup of the LP may be the fact that Omar has held Stevie Wonder to his 1991 promise to appear on one of his records and here he turns up on Feeling You. Whilst slightly muted and not quite having the sparks fly as you would expect this is a creditable offering which is undoubtedly a rare situation. Omar should be congratulated for producing a really pleasing album which with summer finally on us should suit the purpose of backing music for a chill out in the sun.
Omar has tried to keep it simple, but years in the studio and practise have left the sound too over polished and lacking the hunger and grimeyness of his earlier work. No doubt this is the work of an established artist who is confident in his abilities, but at the same time has become a bit too comfortable in his own sphere. This LP touches all the obvious easy listening buttons, but doesn’t seem to offer anything that outstanding. From a Hip Hop point of view the Gimme Sum track isn’t quite what it could be and sounds like someone trying to make a particular sound whereas Omar shines on tracks like Your Mess. From a background listening point of view there could be nothing better. On occasion it has to be said that Omar can be a bit samey, but the world would be a poorer place if this had never been released.
Debut single: Stylin (Featuring Angie Stone) & Gimme Sum (Featuring Common, Rodney P and Ashman) – Release Date: 24th April 2006
- Album: Sing (If You Want To) – Release Date: 15th May