There is a lot of music made in the more rootys jazz-soul corner of the modern music industry which looks back to the styles and traditions of the past, tips its hat to previous glories and freely acknowledges the giants on whose shoulders it stands. Nothing wrong with that, credit where it is due. But whilst, I’m sure, Niklas Ljungfelt, previously making music as Nikk, knows where he is coming from, it is where he is going that is a much more interesting prospect. One Bright Pearl is the sound of someone beating new paths rather than sticking to those lines already clearly marked on the map.
A soul song brimming with pop infectiousness
The main reason for this is his willingness to mix more commercial sounds and styles in with more traditional soul and funk moves, the opening, title track being a pop song infused with soul grooves as much as it is a soul song brimming with pop infectiousness. Fighting For Freedom is a jaunty number built from R&B slickness and funky jive and using the platform to send out some very positive vibes and We Loose is a sultry saunter through bluesy bohemian pop.
Beating new paths is one thing, but you still have to know where you are heading and this musical triptych seems a bit lost, a bit directionless, too much of a scattergun blast of styles and possibly a bit too light and pop-infused to really explore the genres it is toying with. Perhaps the map is there for a reason after all.
Soul purists, the blues old guard and funk aficionados will likely turn their nose up at the progressive and commercial nature of the e.p. but those looking for something fun, fashionable and, I suspect, fleeting will be too busy dancing to care!