“Slo Light (Rob Smith remix)” – Davidge

4 stars (out of 5)

2

Slo Light ResizedSmith & Mighty predate trip-hop by a couple of years or so, but their genre mix-up of soulful but downcast vocals and beats derived from hip-hop were a precursor to the sound that was to follow. They are still best known for their 1988 forlorn and slowly thumping cover versions of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By” and “Anyone Who Had a Heart”, massive club hits both of them. Neil Davidge was a core figure in trip-hop’s golden years, his most high profile work being on the second and third Massive Attack albums.

Slo Light” is the title track from Davidge’s forthcoming album and features remote but yearning vocals by little-known New York-based Living Days singer, Stephonik Youth. The album version takes time to build from music box twinkles to threatening strings and in many ways is Davidge’s new version of “Teardrop”, the song he coaxed Elizabeth Fraser into recording for Massive Attack. Rob Smith’s remix stays close to the original version’s intentions, certainly in mood, but unsurprisingly amplifies the r’n’b elements with a persistent tom-tom drum effect to make this more of a post-club track rather than straight chill out. It’s starker than the album version and Youth’s vocals are more vivid and dominant and the push of melancholy is stronger and more immediate.

This excellent interpretation of one of Davidge’s most seductive tracks should whet your appetite for his very strong debut album, featuring Sandie Shaw and Cate Le Bon amongst others, coming early next month. I wonder if the involvement of Rob Smith indicates that Smith & Mighty may also return to the musical forum? That would be cause for a double celebration.