Post millennium soul artists often claim that their music or sound is indefinable or “refused to be categorized.” In reality, the best music is often something that is simple and relatable. Soul artist Andy Allo called her 2009 debut, UnFresh, “AlterHipSoul.” Thankfully, her latest, Superconductor is simply an enjoyable soulful pop record, or an Oughts-era soul album with perfect pop melodies. There are funk tracks, but the most enjoyable tracks on the album are instantly likable soul songs that discuss love and romanticism, and not just instant gratification. The Cameroon native joined Prince’s New Power Generation as a singer/guitarist in 2011, and his influence can be heard throughout the entire album.
Prince co-wrote three tracks, “The Calm,” “Long Gone,” and the title track. The latter of which is pure Prince-styled pop, filled with strings, mid-tempo bounce, and oblique lyrics; sounding like it belongs on the Diamonds and Pearls album. “Long Gone” is a singer-songwriter type ballad, the type of song that is rarely recorded in today’s pop music landscape. The sweeping lyrics detail a new start in life, and leaving all things, even love, behind. “The Calm,” has an interesting feel. The song has soulful elements, but it has perfect pop melodies and hooks, which belies its complicated relationship musings. The track is an almost perfect melding of 1970s soul and light rock, with better lyrics.
“People Pleaser” is a mid-tempo funk work out, where Andy basically says she is done being a people pleaser. She changed her mind and her views. “Yellow Gold” starts with a funky bassline, then, moves into a 1980s boogie or modern soul groove. It is the high point of the album. The subtle guitars and piano rolls on top of the groove, as Andy muses on simple pleasures and temporary love, but somehow, the track’s fresh, even if it has an older feel, and it doesn’t reek of lust or emptiness – the track is about love, smiles, and genuineness, even if it is temporary.
“Nothing More,” celebrates love and contentment. “If I Was A King,” is a mid-tempo funk song with soulful touches. Andy is putting herself in the position of a man, and viewing a relationship from a surprisingly positive perspective. “The Story of You and I” returns to acoustic guitar driven singer-songwriter storytelling. The album closes with “When Stars Collide,” a hopeful mid-tempo ode to a joyous relationship. It sounds like a happier and less moody version of Herbie Hancock’s “Stars In Your Eyes.” The song reminisces, but it looks forward with hope.
Music in the oughts is based on singles, primary focused on empty catchiness or humor. Superconductor has a classic quality about it, but it remains perfectly modern. Andy Allo’s unique, quirky, but at the same time, sexy and relatable personality also shows through the album, and her lyrics prove that you can still write love songs with depth without sounding trite or pandering. Since the turn of the millennium, I have not found many albums that are worth repeated listens. Superconductor is a much welcomed refreshing exception to this unfortunate trend. It takes real talent and a unique ability to create something this creative, yet, easily likable. Here’s hoping that this is just the beginning for Andy Allo.