Paul Manchin Natural

Paul Manchin has a lot of confidence in the music he makes. He thinks that it transcends the boundaries of many different genres. He has even come up with a catchy name for his integration of soul, pop, R&B, electronica, hip-hop and dance: sprehd. That implies that it takes equal inspiration from each genre, yet he must be keener on some - those of his heroes. Well, George Michael must be near the top of the list, because he really is trying to emulate some of George's funkier moments of days gone by. And that is one of the biggest problems with Natural, it sounds dated and I don't just mean by a few years. Some of the tracks on here sound as if they could have been recorded in the '80s and have been somehow lost in time since. Even the remixes, stuck on at the end for padding, make me think of old-fashioned twelve-inch singles and extended remixes, instead of the latest white labels that are making the rounds to all the coolest clubs in town. Natural isn't especially unpleasant to listen to, but unless you've picked up all those retro collections of songs from your misspent youth, you can probably live without this. (B-Group)