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Keep Reachin' Up

Rate It! Avg: 4.0 (113 ratings)
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Keep Reachin' Up album cover
01
Feeling Free
Artist: The Pekka Kuusisto String Orchestra, Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators
3:37
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02
If This Ain't Love (Don't Know What Is)
3:28
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03
Keep Reachin' Up
3:24
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04
Blues Downtown
5:13
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05
My Four Leaf Clover
Artist: The Pekka Kuusisto String Orchestra, Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators
2:53
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06
A Perfect Kind Of Love
4:01
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07
Invisible Man
2:59
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08
Holdin' On
3:37
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09
No One's Gonna Love You
Artist: The Pekka Kuusisto String Orchestra, Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators
6:06
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10
Soul Investigators Theme
2:42
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11
Outro (Bonus Track)
1:40
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Album Information

Total Tracks: 11   Total Length: 39:40

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Shake your Thing!

aja.johnson

I just stumbled upon this fantastic fantastic album! Nicole Willis' voice is heavenly, the music is funky, and the lyrics are great. It's great modern soul with a little bit of hip hop thrown in. Definitely download this.

user avatar

I LOVE this album!

FelixSF

I download 100 tracks per month on emusic and I I keep coming back to this album. I can safely say that this is one of my favorite albums ever. Yes, it is not a perfect album, a track will clip here, a vocal maybe should have been re-recorded there, but I see these as plusses rather than minuses. This is the real thing from a true source.

user avatar

The title says it all...

groovelikeuluvparis

I like the concept, the premise and the objective of this album. Willis is no Amy Winehouse or Sharon Jones, but, she has boatloads of potential and the talent is there. The band is phenomenal; they really add alot of punch to the material (which, at times, is questionable). What's loading this project down is the horrible mixing, as was said. If they could re-record or remaster it, it would be an above-par cd. If you like the sound of old 45s done in mono, this is your thing, baby!

user avatar

Heavy Soul

SenorPepe

Let's cut right to the best song here: "No One's Gonna Love You". Searing. Right in there with classic James Brown proteges like Yvonne Fair (!!!) and Lynn "Think" Collins. A heavyweight ballad that gives me goosebumps every time!

user avatar

Its reachin

frederick.j.brown

The mix doesn't bother me...in fact, I also kinda like the ruff and ready quality of the vocals...they sound a bit tinny, like off of an old radio or jukebox.....and if you have ever seen a great big band w/vocals live...you hear the band way up front. Its one machine; bamd and vocalist

user avatar

Dead On!

smartman

I'm not sure what you people are talking about. I think the mix on this album is dead on. Just listen to the Feeling Free, Holding On or Soul Investigators Theme samples. It sounds like you're right there in a big room listening to the band. I believe it's all recorded in mono as well. This all lends perfectly to the illusion they are creating with her voice and the band's retro, but genuine, groove. There's a "live" ambience, but minus the crowd noise in the background. If you're familiar with the Calypso King and the Soul Investigators album, Soul Strike! (also on eMusic), then you've heard her backing band before. They're a tight organ combo that seems to have played together for years. And that's exactly what I get on this album, but with string arrangements. Well done!

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Willis

lateafternoongarden

Ask and you shall receive. Ubiquity records Rewind 4, Nicole Willis cover of Cameo's Word Up! titled Werd Up! Go check it out!

user avatar

Ummmm..

Terryville

Thanks for the advice, Philly, but I wasn't talking about the mix. What I believe I said was if you enjoyed retro-soul and Amy Winehouse, then you would probably enjoy this. I actually do have the Winehouse album and enjoy it and prefer it to this one(especially in the lyrics department), but I wasn't trying to make a comparison between the two. I was using her as a point of reference. I'll try to be a little clearer next time. : )

user avatar

good ideas poorly executed

ceylanamo

first off, the previous review was absolutely on: poor mix. this is a shame, because a better mix with a stronger vocal mic'd, mixed, and mastered perhaps a bit differently might've resulted in a quirky, textured sounding interplay between vocal/instruments vs. what it sounds like, which is that the vocalist seems to be barely hanging onto reigns of a powerful band. while the bones ofa great soul/r&b album are there in terms of musical ideas and chops, the ideas are poorly executed. willis' vocal has the sound of someone overthinking and fighting the range and texture of her own voice, of someone trying to sound like someone else. i'd love to hear her in a lower range with less affect and more straight-up soul singing. and the band seems to be off in their own world--very little connection between the vocals and the band.

user avatar

Bad mix

ptmcnally

The music is good, and I think the voice is good. However, the voice is overpowered by the band. The reviewer who compared her to Amy Winehouse needs to listen to Winehouse's mixes. They are very good. This is poor.

eMusic Features

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Keep Reaching Back: Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators

By Hua Hsu, Contributor

Among the spectacular bust-ups and intriguing but stillborn ideas of this September's MTV Video Music Awards, there stood an unlikely anchor: the Dap-Kings. Captained by DJ-turned-human mash-up Mark Ronson, members from the versatile, trench-hardened New York band played the musical interludes as the station went to commercial break, with artists like Akon and the guy from Maroon 5 shuffling on and off stage, singing along to interpolations of their songs. It was a simple but… more »

They Say All Music Guide

After a pair of essentially modern-styled R&B outings, the Brooklyn-born, Europe-based vocalist Nicole Willis struck out in a new direction on her third full-length, teaming up with Finnish funk combo the Soul Investigators in 2005 for a hearty take on ’60s and ’70s stylings which, by accident or design, fit right in with the vintage soul resurgence that was then getting underway. Relative to other diva-led throwback acts such as Sharon Jones and Amy Winehouse, Willis and her cohorts come off as especially convincing revivalists (or especially deceptive simulators), despite seeming comparably laid-back about taking an authentically “retro” approach, or at least about sticking to one particular type of soul. Stylistically, they trend toward the more polished, pop-oriented Northern Soul end of things, occasionally using strings in place of horns and generally keeping things up and peppy, on stomping highlights like “If This Ain’t Love,” “Invisible Man” (which features girl group-styled falsetto backups sung by noted dance producers Maurice Fulton and Jimi Tenor, who’s also Willis’ husband) and “My Four Leaf Clover,” which nods specifically and delightfully to early Motown and to Martha & the Vandellas in particular. Opener “Feeling Free,” which boasts the album’s most uplifting and irresistible chorus hook, sports a similarly chunky early-’60s backbeat wrapped in a lavish arrangement of strings, bongos, and palm-muted guitar that suggests more of an early-’70s, Philly International vibe, whereas the slightly groovier “A Perfect Kind of Love” lays on the Stax-style horn parts and chicken shack organ. The detours into harder-headed funk (“Holdin’ On” and the title track) and smoky balladry (“Blues Downtown” and “No One’s Gonna Love You”) are somewhat less effective: despite some compelling and atmospheric playing from the Investigators, Willis’ voice isn’t quite richly textured enough to be as effortlessly authoritative here as it is on the more melodic, poppier material. Still, these tracks are far from serious missteps, and they do add some well-intentioned variety to an album that, on the whole, stands as one of the finer soul full-lengths of the decade. – K. Ross Hoffman

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