With a Billboard #1 Traditional Jazz album to his credit and a mission to rejuvenate the souls of audiences everywhere, "Sweet Lu" Olutosin continues to shine the light of his 'spirit music' with his latest release "Meet Me At The Crossroads".
As the album title suggests Sweet Lu invites the listener to meet him at the crossroads of R&B/Soul and Jazz music.
For the occasion Lou has lyricised a number of classic Jazz instrumentals and included original songs as well. In doing so he has produced a very fresh and informative album. Lou is an excellent vocalist as well as a entertaining story teller at the same time.
The irony in ‘Skin Game’ for instance borders on the hilarious as he recounts what granny said, if it were not for the serious subject matter.
’Skin Game’ contains particularly resonant lyric in the wake of the troubling racial chasm in the world and in the USA in particular. In his assertive, though lighthearted way, Lu decries the ludicrous nature of our historic skin game divide, dismissing this artificial separation of the human race just as his granny admonished him. “I intentionally, but playfully, poke the big bear called racism with an implied question: “what if we didn’t have skin color to cloud our judgments,” he asks.
Another of Lu’s originals, “Tunji Baby” details a particularly appealing set of feminine wiles, a tune whose flavor neatly straddles the invisible line of demarcation between R&B and jazz. “I just wanted to pay homage to all the beautiful, smart, fine women who are just outside the grasp of the man who’s hot on their trail. Maybe if the guy comes correct he can get Tunji,” Lu declares.
With “How You Do That,” in this world of seeming insurmountable hurdles, Lu sings of folks achieving the unexpected in a world of “haters,” delivered in an eminently radio-friendly manner. Clearly our leader has developed musical platforms that neatly balance originals and classics. In the case of the classics, dig how Lu re-harmonizes the timeless Gamble & Huff line “You’ll Never Find,” bringing that chestnut into the realm of jazz interpretation.
We always thought that Jazz was played by a bunch of - mainly - guys chewing down notes with a deep frown on their foreheads. Not so with Lu.
Nor contains the Soul on this album glass shattering cries of deep-felt emotions. This doesn’t mean that the album doesn’t go deep. It does - but in a lighthearted manner.
With the album Sweet Lu Olutosin manages to strike a fine balance between topical content and integrating the R&B/Soul and Jazz songbooks while leaving it up to his audience to decide whether they stick to the surface level of the music or go deep in the thematic their host lays out for them. The perfect gentleman we would say.
As far as we’re concerned Sweet Lu achieved in his mission to rejuvenate the souls of audiences everywhere. To us, crossroads are the most interesting parts of life, whether in terms of cross-over music or in terms of off the beaten track lyrical approaches.
In the end it is up to you the listener to decide whether you want to meet Lu at the crossroads. We can only encourage you to do so. Enjoy!