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Gabrielle - 'Under My Skin' Album Review


1. Under My Skin

2. Thank You

3. Show Me

4. Every Step

5. Stronger

6. Put Up A Fight

7. Signs

8. Breathe

9. Young And Crazy

10. Take A Minute

11. Won't Back Down

12. Shine

From sampling Bob Dylan on worldwide smash “Rise” and duetting with East 17, Paul Weller and Naughty Boy, Gabrielle has had her fair share of being contemporary and cutting edge. After eleven years she has finally graced us with another album ‘Under My Skin’, her sixth since ‘Find Your Way’ in 1993. This new collection is a powerful modern soul collection which thankfully doesn’t suffer from the over burdening of electronic production and effects that much modern R & B suffers from. It is clear from this record that as Gabrielle approaches her fifties her voice remains strong and has developed into a honeyed, golden, soaring, expansive and soulfully rich instrument.

This is largely a very positive and uplifting album, it certainly left me feeling good after each listen. “Stronger” is for me a truly inspiring gospel-tinged tune and showcases Gabrielle’s voice perfectly. The production is mostly crystal clear with what sounds like a live sound on many tracks, the playing and arrangements are immaculate. One of the most contemporary sounding tunes is “Shine” and perhaps this suffers a little from over production. However it does contain one of the best lyrical couplets heard in a love song for a while with; “If I could be your feather, be your feather I would find a way to fall into your heart”. Production duties are largely split between Steve Chrisanthou (5 songs) and Ian Barter (6 songs). Swedish Pop maestros Tim Larsson Tobias Lundgren produced just one song, “Shine”.

Title track “Under My Skin” is perfectly evocative of classic 1970s soul such as Minnie Riperton and Marvin Gaye. Close your eyes and you could imagine she is being backed by the legendary Motown House Band the Funk Brothers. Gabrielle has co-written every one of the twelve tracks on this release and many of them definitely stand comparison with her finest moments. Let’s not forget that she won an Ivor Novello Award in 2008. There is something about “Take A Minute” that evokes the Style Council at their best, maybe it is the keyboards and mock Motown feel, whatever it is, I love it and it is perhaps my favourite song in this collection after three listens.

The recent death of Aretha Franklin highlights the lack of great soul vocalists in the world today. While Gabrielle, nor could anyone, better Aretha’s amazing voice, Gabrielle has a unique power and style in her voice that makes her one of the greatest soul singers of her generation. ‘Under My Skin’ is out now on BMG.

Please don’t leave it eleven years before the next album Gabrielle!

Review - Bill Adamson

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