Album Reviews

Si Cranstoun

Old School

Artist:     Si Cranstoun

Album:     Old School

Label:     Ruf Records

Release Date:     09/30/2016

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Classic soul fans are quickly catching on to the sixth CD by British singer/songwriter Si Cranstoun, an Old School where dancing is everyone’s major. Heavily influenced by 1950s and 1960s American rock and R&B, Cranstoun produces and leads his band with frisky vitality and abundant taste. He wrote 14 of the 16 songs, recalling influences like Elvis and Jackie Wilson. This exciting, danceable recording will appeal to fans of Christine Ohlman, Sharon Jones and Lee Fields.

Cranstoun’s excellent singing on “Nighttime” is deeply soulful. However, he can sound like a different man from cut to cut. That might be fun live, but could be hard to recognize on the air. He addresses this issue on “Run Free,” looking back to Sam Cooke, but with a modern viewpoint. “I’m running free/on a track that will lead me/to the valley of identity.” When he finds his own true voice, Cranstoun sings with real authority and a captivating vulnerability. In a solid example, he urges, “Don’t give up until you find the Right Girl.” In another fine performance, he belts out his own “Count On Me” with a fresh, rocking, uptempo feel, inspired by Elvis’s recording of a ballad, “I’m Counting On You.”

Two cuts to make you press replay and keep dancing; the irresistible joy and musicianship of “A Christmas Twist” lasts less than three minutes, including a smokin’ saxophone solo. Cranstoun creates two calypso rock minutes of utter beauty with Billy Swan’s “Lover Please,” first recorded by Clyde McPhatter.

-Annie Dinerman

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