Ben L’Oncle Soul – Ben L’Oncle Soul

The key to a good cover song is making a completely original version of the song whilst still keeping the elements of the original that people know and love. It is for this reason that Ben L’Oncle Soul’s version of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army completely rules. The melodies and main riff are intact but the rest of the track is a soul heavy dance funk number layered with the singer’s smooth vocals.

This is how the French crooner has decided to open his debut, self-titled album which is full of original, soul drenched, Motown jams. This man is truly caught in the wrong time period, everything from the style and design of his album booklet to the sound and structure of his music scream dinner club 1950’s yet he is somehow able to make this all seem modern and relevant, possibly because he does it so effortlessly.

The record’s first official single, Soulman, sung predominantly in French, as it most of the album, proves that L’Oncle knows his way around a smooth soul tune, and has the voice to carry it. The play list is mostly up tempo, but every now and then a heartfelt waltz like Mon Amour may appear, or a reggae inspired cruiser such as I Don’t Wanna Waste, giving the record a strong sense of diversity. L’ombre D’un Homme is a horn and organ driven slow jam that lets L’Oncle explore the crooner sections of his voice, with impressive range and dynamics with the instrumentation in perfect support.

Considering the album was recorded in a Belgian garage, the sound is incredibly defined, with a retro sheen and more than enough room given to the various colours and instruments which fill the songs. Things end on a slow funk jam titled Back For You, in which the singer speaks about love above all else set to tinkling pianos, guitar and horn stabs and a relaxed drum pattern. Every now and then an artist comes along with a sense of nostalgia that appeals to the masses, and when it is performed this well, you can expect to hear plenty more from that artist, in this case, the self proclaimed uncle of soul.