Wednesday 22 September 2021

'9-3' by Principles of Joy

'9-3' marks the sophomore album release from contemporary soul heavyweights, the Principles of Joy.

Preceded by the now esteemed words of "Q-Sounds presente..." the label based in Seine Saint-Denis can now boast another project in a long line of incredible contemporary funk and soul releases to a catalogue that has flourished since the label's inception in 2009.  Bolstered by a dream team of acts including The Supertights, The Vogs, Lisa Mélissa & The Mess, Little Clara & Les Chacals and Laura Llorens & The Shadows of Love, Q-Sounds Recordings have earned the right to have their music cited in the same conversation as any of the forerunners of today's soul music scene.

Initially formed in 2017, the Principles of Joy unveiled an awesome introduction to their distinctive style via the stunning 'Strong Ain't Wrong' in 2019.  And even though we're actually here to discuss the new album, it's naturally going to be hard not to turn this article into our own love letter to the band's previous recording.  A truly fantastic record that genuinely solidified the Principles of Joy as masters of their craft able to create soul music that confidently straddles the sweet spot between soul, blues, funk and northern soul.  But while the idea of following 'Strong Ain't Wrong' would appear to be a tall order for fans of the record, it's certainly a challenge that the band have risen to successfully delivering a worthy successor in '9-3'.

Comprised of something of a Q-Sounds super group of musicians from varying bands, the Principles of Joy are made up of label co-founder Lodovic Bors on keys, drummer Cédric Dolanc, bassist Jérôme Makles and guitarists Harysson Jean-Baptiste and Loïc Betems.  With songs written by Bors and Christelle Amoussou, lead vocalist Sarah Ibrahim soars over such a rich and versatile sonic backdrop provide by her Principles counterparts.  And while much of the band's winning formula remains in place for '9-3', the project sees an added bonus with the inclusion of vocalist Rachel Yarabou to the line-up for this go round.  Not only sounding great alongside the always-exceptional Ibrahim, but Yarabou absolutely earns her stripes on the album's southern-themed lament, 'It's Been A Mess'. 

As with the past effort, '9-3' showcases the band's unique ability - through delicate shifts in their music - to steer their sound towards varying styles and elements.  The northern soul of 'Ready To Go' and 'God Only Knows', the sweet soul of 'No Matter What' and the trippy cinematic scope of 'Start From Scratch' are all winners.  While 'Strong Ain't Wrong' featured an inspired cover of Paul Young's 'Come Back and Stay', '9-3' delves into Adele's bag of tricks to deliver a brilliant take on 'He Won't Go' from her '21' album.

With two spectacular albums now under their belt, the Principles of Joy once again prove themselves to be a glorious gem amongst the treasure chest that is Q-Sounds Recordings.

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