As I prepared for this year’s Musical Advent, I wrestled with many dilemmas. What was in and what was being left out? Sleepless nights were spent tossing and turning, mentally scoring lists of tracks to devise a fair scoring system. Believers Vol. 1 was never in question. As one of THE stand out albums of 2020, it was always certain of a window in our calendar.
Adam Scrimshire clearly isn’t the superstitious type, for he chose Black Friday (13th November) to release Believers Vol. 1. The Albert’s Favourites co-founder must’ve known precisely how good his fifth album was. I reviewed Believers upon its release for Louder Than War and awarded it a very, very worthy four and a half bombs, which was my second highest rating of the year. So, that tells you what I think of it.
At the time I described it as “a fortifying, elevating experience; like being wrapped in the wings of an angel”. And it is. There is absolutely zero filler in these grooves – all eight tracks are absolutely minted. Collectively, it’s an uplifting fusion of nu-soul, jazz and electronic that will just make you want to dance.
For those short of time and looking for pointers, I’d recommend checking out the epitome of coolness, Lost In Space And Time. Featuring the outstanding voice of Brighton-based Bessi, it sashays across the vinyl quite magnificently. Another highlight is the Latin-jazz fusion of Tante Tiempo. Scrimshire’s terse, anticipatory piano summons the spirit of Thelonius Monk. Penya bring the rumba and wild percussion, supported by the soaring colossus of Viva Msimang’s trombone and the voice of Lilli Elina. It is dazzling.
The stand out track however is Love Is Loving. I described this track, featuring Omar, Xana and Faye Houston as “pure hot buttered soul that would be comfortably at home on any of Stevie Wonder’s classic early seventies classic albums”. And it would. It genuinely is that good.
In conclusion, Scrimshire has delivered something quite exceptional with Believers Vol. 1. It is his best work to date and this end of year compilation would be significantly weaker without it.