Wednesday , February 28 2024
Soulful European production duo joins forces with international vocalists for a refreshingly funky third album.

Music Review: Cool Million – ‘III’

Cool Million III CDPacked with full-bodied arrangements disseminating gleaming keyboards, richly coated vocals, inexorable beats, and funkalicious guitar licks, the junior Cool Million CD builds upon the authentic brand of groove introduced on 2008’s Going Out Tonight and cemented by 2010’s Back for More. If any collectors of the sought after “boogie” style of ’80s-driven R&B and dance music have concluded that the medium is limited in scope, then the German-Danish duo of Rob Hardt and Frank Ryle will make them question that belief with this relentless set. A variety of tempos and melodic structures result from the pair’s collaborations with an international vanguard of singers—boasting names like Peggi Blu, Kenny Thomas, Donna Gardier, Monique Thomas, and Gary B. Poole.

Utilizing modern technology to capture the essence of early-’80s urban-contemporary glory, Cool Million surround their featured talents with refreshingly retro sonic layouts. While hints of symphonic disco insinuate “Shout It (from the Rooftops),” a lesson from the George Clinton school of funk is imparted on “Pick It Up,” led by the feisty Meagan McNeal. Elsewhere, England’s Laura Jackson adds cool and jazzy pizazz to the atmospheric synth-funk flair of “It’s Your Life,” while the well-versed Peggi Blu glides cursively from demure chanteuse to spitfire soulstress on the classy opening anthem, “When We Loved.”

Whereas its predecessor largely showcased underrated R&B legends from America, III puts a greater focus on up-and-coming acts from the U.K. With each of these vocalists penning their own melodies and lyrics to Hardt and Ryle’s jams, the end result is a notably diverse—yet steadily flowing—stream of funk, mood, and attitude. In the process, Hardt and Ryle coolly hearken the past to boldly straddle the future.

About Justin Kantor

Justin Kantor is a music journalist with a passion for in-depth artist interviews and reviews. Most of his interviews for Blogcritics can be heard on his Blog Talk Radio program, "Rhythmic Talk." Justin's work has been published in Wax Poetics, The All-Music Guide, and A graduate of Berklee College of Music's Music Business and Management program, he honed his writing chops as a teenager—publishing "The Hip Key" magazine from 1992-1996. The publication, which was created out of his childhood home in Virginia Beach, reached a circulation of 10,000 by the time he was 16. At Berklee, Justin continued to perfect his craft with a series of 'Underrated Soul' features for The Groove from 1997-2003. This led to a companion TV show on Manhattan Neighborhood Network in 2002, as well as writing for the national Dance Music Authority (DMA). A self-described "obscure pop, dance, and R&B junkie," Justin also has penned liner notes for reissue labels such as Edsel Records and FunkyTownGrooves. He's excited to be a part of the BlogCritics team and indulge his musical fancies even further. Connect with him at his Facebook page, or via [email protected].

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