I was introduced to Arabella this Saturday by hearing them play outside the Boots in Cambridge.
They were playing a good line in light soul rock and had their album going on a "Please take a copy, leave a donation if you wish" offer, so I put a couple of quid in and took a disc, expecting to get home and hear some reasonably aspiring tunes that would show potential. What I got was a wonderfully crafted album of modern soul and blues inspired tunes from a band who, imo, should be heading their way to next season of Later with Jules Holland if there is any justice in this world.
The album starts as soul, modelled on the 60's & 70's style, but quickly diverges to show off salsa, light-jazz, rock, and even some folk influences. Rather than sounding like a mess of eclecticism for the hell of it this is a band willing to experiment and play with their influences and interests. This is not to say that they don't have a distinctive sound, one thing that ties all of the tracks together is their impressive close-harmony singing and well crafted lyrics, but a compliment that the album never hangs around one motif too long or gets boring through repetition.
Stand out tracks are the opener "Lift Your Head Up" and their single "No Easy Way", both offering master-classes in modern soul, and the more easy listening "It's Ok", which effortlessly gives of so much ambiance if you ever hear in a coffee bar when you are talking to that special someone that you just never got around to asking out is the fates way of saying "do it!"
The only thing that I fail to get with what I've heard is why they bill themselves as a "Pop soul band" on their Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. Whilst I can see them getting popular I am hearing non of the lightness or blandness that is associated with Pop. This is good, solid, here to stay soulful music that will nourish your ears and give you that extra little spring in your step for the rest of the day.