If you're a fan of Sweetback (the band making up Sade, without the singer) you may be pleased to hear that they're launching their second album, Stage 2, on 22 June 2004.
One of their guest vocalists for this album intrigues me. Aya was born in Singapore, moved to London (a la Vanessa-Mae?) and met Stuart Matthewman in New York. The rest, you may say, is history.
From the samples on the website, my favourite picks would be 'Lover' and the slightly electronica-esque 'Mountain', both sung by Aya. If she follows in the footsteps of another female Sweetback guest vocalist, Amel Larrieux, and lands her own recording deal, she will have a bright future [self-correction: She's already with a label, Naked Music]. You could almost fall for her in the music video for 'Lover'. I felt it was better than the shoot for 'Things You'll Never Know', which has pleasing sounds but no strong melody hook.
Sweetback's first album featured another of my most favourite singers, the suave Maxwell. In this second album the 'equivalent' male vocalist is Chocolate Genius, who packs in more raspy power in place of smoothness.
I haven't heard all the tracks, but so far nothing sounds as impactful as their first album's hit, "You Will Rise", sung by Larrieux. Yet this second album is probably good enough for me anyway.
In the words of Matthewman, Stage 2 is: 'No category, no format, no preconception, no style, no continuity, no formula, no description, no comparison, no label, no barriers, no rules, no age, no colour, no nationality, no leader, no competition, and last but not least, no apology!'
[Update: You can listen to all tracks from the first and second albums, on Sweetback's UK site. ]