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Beverley Knight - 100%

Beverley Knight, 100%

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THE sixth studio album from UK soul queen Beverley Knight is, by her own admission, a more contemporary offering that sees the triple Mobo award winner on fine vocal form.

But while mostly strong in concept and delivery, 100% also drops in a couple of clangers that threaten to spoil an otherwise fun listen.

But first the positives. Knight has assembled a glittering line-up of behind-the-scenes collaborators on 100%, including former writing partners Guy Chambers (Robbie Williams) and Jimmy Hogarth (Adele, Duffy), as well as Grammy Award winning legends Jam and Lewis, Ivor Novello winning songwriter Amanda Ghost (Beyonce) and acclaimed songwriter Jamie Hartman.

She’s also enlisted hot UK producing duo The Rural (Gym Class Heroes) and award-winning production partnership Bacon & Quarmby (Sugababes), as well as teaming up with soul legend Chaka Kahn for one song.

Needless to say, the album is packed with powerful soul moments, but also has plenty of more poppy ones to savour as well.

Album opener Beautiful Night, for instance, drops a great beat and some tinkling piano loops over a soulful set of vocals to deliver an early highlight, while Breakout offers a slice of disco to get down to in energetic fashion.

In Your Shoes has a nice, slightly ’80s retro vibe akin to Sister Sledge, albeit with a contemporary electro-disco element, and title track 100% is a mid-tempo power ballad that pays tribute to a special love. It’s finger-clicking chorus is nicely delivered.

The quality is maintained through the sassy soul diva number Every Step, which finds Knight confidently taking stock of her life and not yielding any regrets, and Soul Survivor, her duet with Chaka Kahn that not only showcases two great divas but also a gospel chorus backing.

A little later on, Square Peg offers another highlight thanks to a winning combo of piano chords and snappy beats, as well as a really powerful chorus, while Gold Chain drops a funky break-beat and a gritty set of vocals that ooze sex appeal and sassiness.

Moneyback and Painted Pony, meanwhile, ease the album to a close with, respectively, an upbeat dancefloor filler and an intimate, glockenspiel-laden ballad.

But then there’s those clangers. Turned To Stone and Bare are bog-standard ballads that don’t really do anything other than provoke unwanted Whitney Houston comparisons.

But final track Too Much Heaven is so bad it sends shivers down the spine (and not in a good way!). Designed as a feelgood finale, it’s a sickly, even vomit-inducing blast of cheesiness that’s gut-wrenchingly awful.

It’s a shame as Knight’s LP had hitherto impressed. It’s still worthy of attention and a place on the record shelves of any soul fan. But it prevents a good album from becoming great.

Download picks: Beautiful Night, Soul Survivor, Gold Chain, Square Peg, Breakout, 100%

Track listing:

  1. Beautiful Night
  2. Breakout
  3. In Your Shoes
  4. 100%
  5. Every Step
  6. Soul Survivor feat. Chaka Kahn
  7. Turned To Stone
  8. Bare
  9. Square Peg
  10. Gold Chain
  11. Moneyback
  12. Painted Pony
  13. Too Much Heaven