Cynthia Layne - Beautiful Soul


Cynthia Layne started her career like many other musicians do, hanging in clubs and performing with local bands. After her debut album Reality (2004) Beautiful Soul (2007) is her sophomore album and the first released on the label Owl studios. Owl Studios is an independent record label, started by Al Hall, that concentrates on jazz, R&B, and jam band genres.

Rob mediated Cynthia to Owl studios: "He told me there was a new record label in town and that I should check them out," remembers Cynthia. "He set up a meeting with J. Allan Hall (owner/president) and the rest is history. He checked out my music and live show and wanted me on the label."

Beautiful Soul was produced by keyboardist Reggie Bishop and saxophonist Rob Dixon. "I've known and played with Cynthia for years even when I lived in New York," said Dixon, who would sometimes come back to Indiana just to work with Layne. "It is really easy to write songs for her and with her. I also really appreciate that she trusts me musically."

Be You showcases the uniqueness of Cynthia's vocals. When I would try to compare her with another singer, I would cite Maysa. Perhaps that might be conjured by the well arranged placement of horns what reminds me of the group Incognito.

Kings & Queens is rhythm-oriented. "I love different rhythms and drum patterns and the way it can change the whole vibe of a song. I use my voice as an instrument and like to be creative when ad-libbing and scatting. I get a lot of ideas from the drums and horns to do vocals. I really get into the music and you can see it and hear it during our live performances." And when Cynthia starts through one remarks a remarkable dynamic of her voice.

The songs Letting You Go along with Funny and We were originally on the debut album Reality. Cynthia said that the reason for including them on the new record was "because as we gigged and played the tunes live they sort evolved into something that was different and better than when we first recorded them." She felt they had to be a part of Beautiful Soul. "They are such great songs. And I'm sure that this album will reach millions of people who have never heard my music.

On Pimp Talk Cynthia declares her independence and she is very convincing in her attitude. The ballade I Can't Change You bases on a waltz-rhythm and has some jazz implantations. Responsible for the jazzy tones is Rob on sax. With Will U Be There Cynthia opens another door of her possibilities. Garage sound or house music with a somehow bumpy beat.

After my personal opinion I prefer the modest tones like on the ballade All I Need. Her voice shines and is caressed by the natural bass. Beautiful Soul takes the same line but with the main weight on jazz performed with a liberal interpretation by Rob's sax. Funk is in the house on Free Yourself. "It seems to me that we are all either ready to go through it, are in it or coming out of some situation in life," Cynthia comments. "And for me singing is like telling a story...and we all have a story to tell."

The title Funny reminds me somehow of the music of Grace Jones. Ok, there is extravaganza in small doses but Cynthia's voice is heartfelt, warm and authentic. Rob delivers a delicious jazzy accompany. If you love Brand New Heavies you will also like Mystery, mixing the best ingredients of Acid Jazz and Chill Out. Take some turntable scratches, vibes and Cynthia's smoking vocals and you hit the nail on the head.

The awesome ballade We can be watched on You Tube. The ideal composition of beauty, presentation and musical message. Two And One is a dance floor track  with the typical house beat. The extended version of Letting You Go showcase a diva with the flavor of jazz, soul and R&B, a phenomena America is blessed with.

Cynthia gives her young daughter a shout on the last track Nina Shouts. "She wanted to talk on the mic and during a break, she started talking and being silly, said Cyntha. "Of course we didn't tell her we were recording her. We ended up editing her "shouts" (believe me she talks a mile-a-minute), added a synth track and loop and used it as the last track. I think it was a fun way to end the album. It ends leaving a smile on your face!"

Cynthia Layne showers us with presents. Beautiful Soul is an album full of richness. Richness of soul and emotion. There is much more to come.




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  • Title: Beautiful Soul
    Artist: Cynthia Layne
    Year: 2007
    Length: 1:09:44
    Genre: General R&B
    Label: Owl Studios

    01 Be You [3:43]
    02 Kings & Queens [4:48]
    03 Letting You Go [3:42]
    04 Pimp Talk [4:41]
    05 I Can't Change You [4:06]
    06 Will U Be There [7:05]
    07 All I Need [3:39]
    08 Beautiful Soul [4:54]
    09 Free Yourself [5:13]
    10 Funny [6:01]
    11 Mystery [5:43]
    12 We [5:02]
    13 Two And One [4:52]
    14 Letting You Go (Extended Play) [5:27]
    15 Nina Shouts [0:47]