With Let Yourself Be Loved – Deluxe Edition, Joy presents her definitive soul statement. Marking her fifth album release, the record is in equal parts an act of self-assertion, genealogical research and homage to the great classics of the genre. It’s a record that features the shimmering arrangements, the sumptuousness and the ethereal melodies we associate with classic soul music. Production comes courtesy of Roberto Di Gioia – one of the world’s most renowned jazz pianists who began his career playing with greats such as Johnny Griffin, Art Farmer and Woody Shaw.
Highlights include “Be Here In The Morning”, a duet with Texan blues singer C.S. Armstrong, the dramatic “Wounded Love”, the Marvin Gaye-reminiscent “The Ride” and the combative up-tempo smasher “I Gotta Know”. The James Jamerson bass guitar sounds particularly good on “I Believe”, which Denalane sings with BJ The Chicago Kid. And of course, don’t miss the five new bonus tracks; there’s the funk driven “Use Me,” and the joyful splendor of “Still It Ain’t You.” Upcoming single “The Show,” is neo-soul at its best, whilst the upbeat “Forever” and the timeless “Give and Take” complete the set. The addition of these new songs lifts an already brilliant album to a near perfect body of work.
“I wanted to make a classic soul album,” says Joy. “Stylistically I was looking for inspiration from the period around the end of the 1960s to 1973” – a period which represents an important turning point for the genre, in which soul surpassed itself musically and finally became a socio-political force with significant impact. For Joy, this deep and devoted engagement with the music of her childhood is not simply a search for her musical roots. It’s not a matter of vintage simulations of old soul recordings. It’s a matter of identity – musical, political and personal. The biographical aspect, the desire for belonging, has always been a central theme in her work.
Let Yourself Be Loved – Deluxe Edition is permeated by Joy Denalane’s experiences as a black woman in Germany’s diaspora. When she was a child and a teenager there were very few black people in Germany, and there was no sound that addressed their day-to-day experience of racism and marginalization. However, that has not made the Berlin-born artist any less fierce: sometimes when you sing about love, it’s about the absence of love. That is just part of how’ Let Yourself Be Loved – Deluxe Edition’ represents the essence of Joy Denalane.