Plantlife - Time Traveller
Judging by the title track, which name drops everyone from Talking Heads to Beastie Boys, Jack Splash isn't scared of being compared to the greats. Indeed, following Plantlife's debut album, The Return of Jack Splash, it seemed a multitude of artists (including Groove Armada, Missy Elliot and Britney Spears) wanted to work with Mr Splash, even if he's yet to become anywhere near a household name.
Plantlife do stand out from the current soul/R&B crowd, mainly for Splash's distinctive voice (a falsetto constantly on the edge of breaking up; file under "acquired taste") and charisma. You can tell he's something of a ladies' man. The songs - and there are 19 of them here - vary in style. Sun Shines Through Your Love and Sumthin About Her are light, female-worshipping soul reminiscent of their best known track, When She Smiles She Lights The Sky, and What A World (Babygirl) is very like Prince at his soppiest. Take It Off, however, is the polar opposite; hammering beats, squealing 80s synths and filthy lyrics about orgies and 69-ing. There's even time for politics in Tear The House Down, which has a bassline suspiciously similar to that from Another One Bites The Dust. Not content at having a go at Bush, Splash ain't scared to diss Arnie too - and suggests Clinton (George, not Hilary) for president.
Time Traveller is somewhat hampered by being so long and for lacking in anything that really stands out; note it was the excellent 4 Hero mix of When She Smiles She Lights The Sky that grabbed people's attention. Still, with Splash's odd voice and return to more traditional soul sounds, they remain a curious proposition and, for the "black music" fan, definitely more worthy of investigation than 99% of chart-hogging R&B acts.