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Living It Up In the New World

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Album Review

Soul music didn't totally evaporate after the '70s, but you have to know where to find it. One option is the neo-soul of '90s and 2000s artists such as Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, D'Angelo, India Arie, and Mary J. Blige; those singers have combined their appreciation of classic '60s and '70s soul with urban contemporary and hip-hop elements — an approach that critic Nelson George terms "retro-nuevo." But there are others who offer a faithful re-creation of classic pre-'80s R&B, and Living It Up in the New World — like albums by the Brand New Heavies and the Boston-based SuperHoney — is unapologetic in its devotion to '70s-style soul and funk. This 2005 release isn't neo-soul; under the direction of lead singer/founder Stefanie Seskin, Blue Number Nine offer an enthusiastic celebration of R&B as listeners knew it in the pre-urban contemporary era (with a few detours into pop/rock territory). And the influences that have served Seskin well on previous BNN albums — Rufus & Chaka Khan, the Average White Band, LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, among others — continue to serve her well on infectious tracks like "Dig My Hands" and "Castles." Seskin takes a very hands-on approach; on top of singing lead and playing the flute, she co-produced Living It Up in the New World (with BNN bassist Marco Accattatis) and wrote or co-wrote all of the songs. Seskin is no innovator, but if this album is derivative, it is pleasingly derivative — for those who are seriously into the soul and funk of the '70s, it isn't hard to enjoy Seskin's celebration of that era. Anyone who has spent a lot of time savoring the retro-soul pleasures of the Brand New Heavies or SuperHoney is advised to give Living It Up in the New World a close listen.


Formed: September, 1995 in New Jersey

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Led by vocalist/songwriter/musician Stefanie Seskin, New Jersey's Blue Number Nine is an interracial soul/funk outfit with a strong ‘70s influence. Seskin isn't necessarily an R&B purist where Blue Number Nine is concerned; there are, at times, traces of rock, pop, and jazz in their work. But soul/funk is the primary direction of Blue Number Nine -- who have sometimes been compared to the equally ‘70s-minded Brand New Heavies -- and Seskin obviously gets a lot of inspiration from an era in which...
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Living It Up In the New World, blue number nine
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  • €8.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Rock
  • Released: 13 June 2005

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