There’s a lot of talk about the lack of substance and positive values on the urban music scene today. Where are the positive images of men and women, particularly African-Americans? Where are the songs promoting romance and lasting love? There are such songs and images but somehow they get overshadowed by superficial sexuality and material celebration. No one has done more in the last decade to deliver great, down-to-earth songs about love, relationships and family and the struggles ordinary people face than Kindred The Family Soul, the Philadelphia-based hit-making husband-and-wife duo Fatin and Aja Dantzler. On such hits as “Far Away,” “Magic Happens,” “Stars” and “House Of Love,” Kindred The Family Soul delivers soulful, honest portraits of love and family. They not only sing about this life, they live it! They balance a committed marriage and six children with a successful career as musical artists. Their website has become a focus for many people who are dealing with the same struggles or who simply see in Kindred The Family Soul inspiration to do the same. On June 10, 2014, Shanachie Entertainment will release a new album A COUPLE FRIENDS, their latest installment in their ongoing love story.
With a jazz style that is both urban and contemporary, Nick Colionne has blazed a trail to the top of the ranks of today’s stars. Combining jazz, R & B, blues and funk, he has an unmistakable sound and vibe that is instantly recognizable. Nick takes the guitar to unexpected places every time he performs and his rich baritone vocals delight his audiences.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to write and record an album when I haven’t been expecting a baby or just had one!” notes Aja Dantzler. As a result, the couple had the luxury of more time, space and energy to devote to the creative process and the results are very organic, free-flowing music. Working with such front-line producers as Vidal Davis and Andre Harris (Jill Scott, Marsha Ambrosius), Anthony Bell (Jaheim, Estelle), James Poyser (John Legend, The Roots) and Steve McKie (Bilal, Jazmine Sullivan), Kindred wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album.
“The last CD was more concept-driven and full of features,” Fatin Dantzler explains, “but this CD reminds me more of our first CD. We recorded a few songs then stopped recording for almost a year then picked up where we left off and records just started to pour out like a well. I feel growth in the record for us. It’s still the same ‘us’ but more seasoned. We’ve been together a long time and we know each other extremely well.”
Indeed, where their critically-acclaimed last album, LOVE HAS NO RECESSION, was very oriented toward social commentary, A COUPLE FRIENDS focuses more on the original Kindred themes of love and the joys and challenges of a committed relationship. The duo also produced a special 22-minute short film featuring material from the album. The new material on the CD is one more affirmation that Kindred The Family Soul has created a unique style and approach to music-making that is a welcome dose of substance and “real life” on an all-too-often vapid music scene.
A COUPLE FRIENDS opens with the buoyant and spirited “Get it, Got it,” which sets the tone for the music to follow as the duo sings, “We let our light shine wherever we go. We give respect to everyone we know. Always prepared to do the best we can.”The soulful “Call Me Crazy” is the very first song Fatin and Aja recorded for the album even before they had conceived an album concept. Fatin says the song’s hook sums up their relationship perfectly. The album’s first single, “Everybodys Hustling,” was written as an answer to all of the glorification of money in hip hop and mainstream music and media. Fatin and Aja explain, “We see people and their struggles quite differently and we want people to be inspired to continue to reach for greatness whether they have access to lots of money or not. Most people listening to the radio are not rich; this one’s for them.”“Lovin’ The Night” is a throwback to classic 70s soul with the feel and flavor of TSOP’s timeless vibe. Kindred The Family Soul delivers an inspirational message to the younger generation with “One Day Soon,”singing the words, “one day soon your dreams will all come true – stay focused….You can have it all, you’ve got to make a choice…” Aja reflects, “I am grateful to my children for providing endless inspiration, laughter and insight.” The album’s title track is a masterpiece and joins the dynamic duo with the legendary Valerie Simpson who stretches out and delivers some brilliant piano work. Fatin shares, “Aja’s verse is a tearjerker to me and so eloquently expressed. The song is special to us and to have Ms Valerie Simpson on it is the cherry on top.”A COUPLE FRIENDS“Not Complaining” is about working together, sacrifice and fighting to make love work while “Never Loved You More” is a sweet dance-inducing number that is another throwback to TSOP and reminiscent of some songs sung by great blues R&B crooners like Lou Rawls, Billy Paul or Barry White. Fatin and Aja get the kids to join in on the fun-loving and funky “Momma Said Clean Up.” Fatin says “Here We Go”was an opportunity to take it back to an old school vibe “when hip hop was fun but had a message and infuse it with a inspirational undertone.” The track features a young rapper from Philly named Chill Moody. The album also features the grown and sexy number “Drop The Bomb” and “Look At What We Made.” The latter is an emotional and moving ballad that speaks to Kindred’s ongoing commitment to love and family. “What I’ve Learned” is a lullaby-like closer that reminds us that going on a journey with Kindred The Family Soul is always an experience worth taking.
“Touching people with genuine emotion and true-to-life lyrical content has always been our mission,” Fatin says. “We want people to know that soul music has not left the building. We are here to stay and are carrying on the tradition!”