At times Carmen's music has the sort of soulful feel and sound you used to get from the Philadelphia International and Brunswick labels. However she is also able deliver a modern and harder edged soul sound that has an all together funkier, grittier feel. Indeed with this album Carmen may well have come up with a new type of sound, one that we've decided to christen 'Antipodean Soul'.
The opening track "With You" is reminiscent of the sort of polished soul that the Chi-lites and Delfonics where so adept at delivering, and this track certainly stands up favourably in that exalted company. On the other hand with "That Girl" and "I Used To" she shows the grittier side of the soul coin with more of a funk and urban influenced, almost Beyonce, like sound. With "Feeling Alright" we are treated to a wonderful combination of soul blended with hints of doo-wop that is perfectly set off by an understated sax accompaniment; whereas "We Can Work It Out" sees Carmen deliver a Stax style torch song in the manner of Shirley Brown or Jean Knight - one that is not to be missed.
"Hurt So Bad" has a bit of a Bobby McFerrin feel about it, however we are prepared to overlook that as it is a fine song with a particularly catchy tune; and "Letting You Go" returns to that Brunswick influenced soul sound that sadly seems to have all but disappeared. One of the best is saved for last with "Do It Right Now", as she gives us as good a combination of old style and modern funk that you're likely to hear this year.
She has certainly succeeded in proving that there is more to the land down under than Kylie, Fosters and Crocodile Dundee. And just as with their menagerie of exotic wildlife, she manages to gives us something that is just little different to the norm. Good on you Sheila, err… sorry Carmen!! Available from CD Baby.