Ever since a string of, essentially pop, artists from Amy Winehouse to Duffy to current hyperbolic sensation Adele re-appropriated and repackaged soul for a shallower, style over substance world, the genre seems to have traded in its essential elements for ticket sales, music awards and a fast track to the dream. What their particular brand of blue-eyed soul seems to be lacking… the groove, the sensuality, the sass, the sound of gospel going funk, of rhythm and blues having an elicit relationship with pop…sits at the heart of Charlotte Cardinale’s music.
That isn’t to say that she is a backward glancing, rose-tinted revivalist, but you could make an argument for her being the perfect bridge between the aforementioned pop sensations and originators such as Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Irma Thomas. Not in a sonically literal sense but as a conduit for taking the essence of the genre and bringing it to a modern audience.
Tracks such as Hands Together are majestically atmospheric, all slow, lilting grooves and sumptuous vocal washes, lingering anticipation and Stories seems merely to wrap a voice and acoustic guitar around an emotion, a transient feeling rather than anything more substantial. But this is an album that crosses a number of generic boundaries too. Monday is a country-blues shuffle, and tailpiece You’re Wrong is a full on soul-rock groover.
But it is when she is tugging heartstrings, evoking feeling and sonically clothing herself in the smoky vibes of the late night, jazz club chantress that the magic really happens and there are more than a few tracks here, not least opening salvo Dust and Tears, that if they popped up on commercial radio would almost certainly open the right doors.
Florescentia is a fantastic showcase for this Italian artist, a slick, sophisticated and versatile collection and one that will act as the perfect calling card. If there is any justice in the world this release is the first step to Europe, and indeed the world, finding a new jazz/soul champion. A Roman Holiday perhaps?