Back in 2007 Ricky-Tick Records introduced Stance Brothers and their album Kind Soul, a gritty instrumental soul / funk setting masterminded by and fully canned by Teddy Rok at his home studio.
Fast forward a couple of years, and we are blessed with a magnificient new album from "A Magnificient New Talent" (as declared on the cover). A singer by the name of Jo Stance.
Although Jo Stance is a standalone project, not meant to be a straight continuation to what made the Stance Brothers, the connection is evident in more ways than just the name. The album is recorded in pretty much the same manner, at home using analog multitracks, with the duo responsible of nearly all the sounds, only helped out by friends on horns, Jukka Eskola and Timo Lassy – or should we call him Diamond T. Sparks (remember him?) on this occasion?
In fact I'm told that this session would not be without Mr. Sparks, who initally drove Teddy Rok to produce some of Jo's album, which later on took the current form.
I'm so very glad it turned out this way, because the result is astounding. Last summer many top clubs and various DJs picked up the 45, "Hey Girl!", making it a bit-of-a-hit for afficionados from Helsinki to Brooklyn, NY. The tune's laid-back, vibraphone driven melody was ideal for the summer breeze, alright, but I was still caught off-guard when I first listened to the whole set.
I knew Jo could sing the Soul, she had done so on the background of the great Finnish soulman Tuomo, and Huba, to name but a few, but to step out into the spotlight is something very different. I feel the singers in Finland usually tend to be a bit wary, as if a bit excusing to be on the mic. But that can't happen singing soul. You have to lay it all on the table so as to tell you're the star.
This is where I think Jo Stance succeeds with flying colors. Whether she is in-your-face raw and powerful – the way you know I love it – like in "Sticky" (an absolute future classic), "Treated" or "Changes", or heart-warmingly mellow as in "Me and You" or "No More Tears", she feels real, the songs feel really close to her.
This is the one of the most significant records out of Finland this year (there is still one gem waiting at the Ricky-Tick HQ…) and the best Finnish Soul album since 2006′s "Keep Reaching Up" by The Soul Investigators. The album is a homerun for Jo Stance as a singer, for Teddy Rok invading new territories as a soul producer, as well as Ricky-Tick for expanding their release range into soul music.