Elements of Style
Motown crooner Sheila Brody is one of those surprisingly unsung talents whose soulful vocals make her a great backup singer as well as a standalone artist. Her own “Twenty Feet from Stardom” moment came when she joined George Clinton’s Brides of Funkenstein. Clinton helped hone Brody’s talent and vary it to the point that she set out for the dance floor, crafting groove-inducing hits at home and abroad by way of two very distinct aliases. Now that Brody’s assuming her real name, she’s melding the two worlds of soul and dance together with her Mississippi EP.
Opener “Mississippi” starts off in a swirl of sound, and ultimately find its path with Brody’s strong vocals harkening back to the many soulful women that helped make the state of Mississippi the founding state of contemporary music. Of course, her recent dance anthem past rears its groovy head with “Turn It Up.” The track pairs the electronic elements of her former Amuka and Blackwood aliases with an unabashed voice that is powerful all on its own. For that reason, it’s rather strange that any reverb or clipping hit Brody’s vocals, especially if she wants to continue a more minimalistic, soulful sound. Similarly, “I Want to Tell You” starts off with vocal detritus that sends Brody away from Mississippi and on a rocket headed straight for the stratosphere.
Brody somehow returns to earth with “Rocking Chair”, which then rolls right into an impassioned Chuck D rap. It’s Chuck D who signed Sheila Brody to his newly launched SPITdigital Label and his presence is a welcomed addition, anchoring the loose threads of delta blues with a slowed dance hall-esque sample that leads straight into staccato horns.
That throwback sound pitted against such idiosyncrasies is where Brody should be headed. It’s where she excels on a record that, at times, only feels loosely connected by the most frayed of threads. As George Clinton acted as mentor, so Chuck D may help in bringing Brody to the forefront by way of more focused subsequent records.