With 'Set Me Free', Angela Lewis Brown has produced a highly confident and self-assured debut album. This should come as no surprise when you hear that she learned her chops in the cauldron of the dance halls of the north, absorbing northern soul and diva powerhouse soul through the 80s and 90s. Her voice, which is full of Dusty's and Koko's natural grit and soul, takes us through ten self-penned tracks on an emotional trip covering everything from betrayal and self-belief to the screw-you breaking glass lyrics of 'Better Man', indicating a woman who is totally comfortable with where she's at.
The ordering of the tracks is such that she moves regularly from sad blues introspection - 'Ice Cold Tears' being a beautiful slow piece with some subtle guitar interplay and 'Summer Nights' where her soul voice gives an acerbic edge to her own poignant lyrics - to the upbeat 'I'll be There' and the big range 'I'm Feeling Good About Me', that could easily be a smart anthem of many female singers. There are a some good numbers here - I particularly liked the track 'Hopeless' which gives her room to strut her range and distinctive soul vibrato, whilst playing against some absolutely terrific backing vocals and well judged guitar. I can see this one becoming a playlist regular.
Following its launch earlier this month, this fine album is rightly getting some good airplay. It occupies that classic hinterland where soul and blues meld seamlessly together in the hands of a fine and accomplished singer. I guarantee we will be hearing a lot more from this artist as she stakes out her territory.