Published Oct 03, 2019There are clearly a few soul points of reference on Sweetest Thing, a ten-track album from Nova Scotia-born artist Katherine Penfold. There are notes of '90s neo-soul, the classic R&B of a couple decades prior and slices of funk and jazz sprinkled in between. Penfold's bright vocals have a clear quality and maintain integrity through the various vocal runs she lands over the course of the proceedings.
Penfold has a hands-on approach to music making: she co-produced the project with David Sikula, literally built her recording studio from scratch and brings along the expertise of folks like soprano Amber Navran of Moonchild, and producers like Eye 3 Brandon and Chin Injeti to ensure a savoury feel to Sweetest Thing.
It's hard to mess up a soul standard like Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Makin' Love" and Penfold doesn't, adding enough sparkle to make it her own. "Far Away" sees Navran add a nice dynamic to an otherwise straightforward neo-soul groove, "Better" has the style of ex-Bass is Base's Injeti over it, a co-written funky affair that activates the senses and a Lauryn Hill-esque sensibility. The title track is a stripped-down piano and brass production that revels within an organic crackle and flow and ambiance.
Most of all, there is an earnestness that envelopes the project, a soulful energy that sees the artist draw from the genre — making it her own — while paying respect to those who came before. As Penfold tours the country in the coming months, Sweetest Thing is worthy of the buzz that will surely travel along with it. (Justin Time/Nettwerk)