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The Beauty Room (Album)

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Album Review

Kirk Degiorgio once saw messages in Herbie Hancock's shirts, and now it seems he's getting them from somewhere inside the beards of Walter Becker, David Crosby, Jon Lucien, Richard Rudolph, at least two Doobie Brothers, and maybe from a yacht docked off the coastline of Big Sur as well. Having been at the forefront of machine soul for well over a decade, Degiorgio — who does a lot of the expected (including production and synthesizers) and a little of the very unexpected (background vocals, as well as one lead turn) — points toward a completely different direction here, leading a group that is fronted by Jinadu, a distinctive singer with a caressing voice who has previously collaborated on two of Degiorgio's As One albums. Assisted by an extended cast that incorporates a full band — including longtime Degiorgio peer Ian O'Brien on acoustic guitars, Chris Whitten on drums, Thomas O'Grady on keyboards, and a full orchestra — the Beauty Room updates and hybridizes folk, soul, and soft rock of the late '60s and early '70s. It's a big production that, despite its apparent inspirations, maintains a wholly modern sound and quiet power. These ten songs have no sharp edges; they're sensitively played and immaculately produced (the songs are well-dressed, but nothing is superfluous), and they're written with a deep knowledge of the past that is evident, yet never used as a crutch. Degiorgio, Jinadu and company are technically, musically, and creatively inclined enough to produce an album that easily transcends mimicry, one that deals in romantic and self-analytic themes without ever dipping into mush. Though it does have some precedents within recent memory — Terry Callier's Speak Your Peace and Lookin' Out, the more organic parts of 4hero's Creating Patterns, the high points of Faze Action's Broad Souls — it outstrips all of them.

Biography

Formed: England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

The core of the Beauty Room is Kirk Degiorgio (producer, keyboards, vocals) and Jinadu (lead vocals, keyboards). Though the group didn't make its recorded debut until late 2005, with a low-key 10" single on the New Religion label, Degiorgio and Jinadu first collaborated four years prior, when the latter provided vocals on the former's 21st Century Soul album. For Degiorgio, an early champion of Detroit techno — and, more importantly, a pioneering and prolific producer in his own right —...
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The Beauty Room (Album), The Beauty Room
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