Ira Robbins
October 12, 1990 AT 04:00 AM EDT

UK Blak

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Caron Wheeler
genre
Folk

We gave it an A-

Caron Wheeler’s impressive vocals on ”Keep On Movin”’ played a crucial role in the phenomenal rise of Soul II Soul, the British music conglomerate whose particular brand of easygoing, funky dance music has been widely imitated. Although no longer part of the group’s extended family, Wheeler has wisely recycled its style onto her first solo album. Most of the songs on UK Blak feature a loping bass-and-drum techno-beat; spare use of keyboard, guitar, and strings leaves plenty of sonic room. The music confidently embraces dance funk, acoustic folk (”Don’t Quit”), a cappella multi-tracking (”Somewhere”), catchy pop (”Proud”), and mild reggae (”Jamaica”), folding in hip-hop and American soul for good measure.

The album’s lyrics are equally diverse. The title track and ”Livin’ in the Light” address the challenge of being black in Britain. ”Don’t Quit” offers an encouraging message about coping, while ”This Is Mine” (apparently directed at Soul II Soul mastermind Jazzie B) rings with righteous feminism. The only sour note is the servile declaration of love in ”Proud,” a song that Wheeler still delivers with tuneful conviction. A-

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