Monday, June 25, 2012

Vel Omarr

Vel Omarr
Soul Express' Heikki Suosalo reviews Vel Omarr

Special Soul Music is a new subsidiary of CDS Records (, and on their CD covers it says “100 % Organic, Real Musicians, Real Instruments, Real Soul.” And indeed, on Vel Omarr’s The Greatest Song I Ever Sang (SPSO 2) they present a real live rhythm section and even a 4-piece horn section. Produced by Carl Marshall, he’s also the main writer with some help from Dylann DeAnna and Robert Conerly.

Vel’s idol is Sam Cooke, and there’s a strong vocal resemblance, too. He’s perhaps closest to Sam of all the artists I’ve heard in recent years. Vel is also an industry veteran having sung in the latter-day’s Robins and Olympics, and - as far as I know - The Greatest Song is Vel’s fourth solo album so far (

The opening song, Everybody’s Dancin’, is like Sam’s Having a Party introduced to us all over again after fifty years with its laid-back beat and infectious melody. Happy People is another merry melody along the lines of Another Saturday Night.

I Love you and A Woman’s Love Is Greater are both mid-tempo beaters, whereas Don’t Give More Than You Feel and Joanna could almost be categorized as novelties. The former is somewhere between a circus tune and a nursery rhyme with accordion and everything, and the latter one is built on a Caribbean beat. Lonesome Joe, on the contrary, is closest to the funk you’ll get on this set.

As harmless, joyous and light-hearted as all those mid- and up-tempo tracks are I still prefer the five slow songs on this CD. Still My Love Grows is a tender love serenade, and The Greatest Song I Ever Sang is charged with a lot of passion in Vel’s delivery. I’ll Be There for Ya and Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime are both melodic and wistful beat-ballads, while the very slow Give Me Your Love has a pleading Marvin Gaye feel on it. Although nothing earth-shattering, I thoroughly enjoyed and keep enjoying this Vel’s CD. It’ll certainly find its way into my top-ten this year."