2021 Jun 29     
2 Bit Thugs

On this long-awaited long-player, Mark Knight shows us that he's still a soul boy at heart

Toolroom boss Mark Knight finally releases the album that we were promised would mark a return to his soulful house roots. All the signs – which is to say, the two singles that have already been released – were good, but of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It's a pleasure to be able to report, then, that the pudding is a very tasty dish indeed.

Untold Business opens with the first of the two aforesaid singles, the gospel-inspired Everything's Gonna Be All Right, featuring Beverly Knight and The House Gospel Choir. For the next few tracks, we then take a detour into the kind of pop/R&B-tinged house territory once explored so successfully by Stonebridge on his classic mid-00s album Can't Get Enough, with vocals supplied by Chenai, Shingay and Gia, in that order, the latter appearing on Michael Gray collab Love Is All We're Living For. But then, just when you're thinking "this is all very commercial," along comes You Saw Me, which features a male vocal from Damon Truetti, and which should satisfy even the most snobbish of soulful house purists.

By now, the pattern has been well established, with no two tracks featuring the same vocalist (bar Chenai cropping up once more), and Knight jumping nimbly back and forth between styles like a mountain goat. One minute you're getting squelchy funk/soul vibes on 10,000 with Clementine Douglas, the next Robert Owens is dropping by to flex those unmistakable tonsils on deep, bass-y D.Ramirez collab Pass It Up, then before you know it we're in full hands-in-the-air mode on the Laura Davie & Melody Men-featuring If It's Love. Gene Farris lends a hand on the title track, a lower-tempo soul/boogie jam that sits right in the middle of the track list, Mr V's trademark spoken word/rap stylings sit neatly alongside Chenai on Tonight and, well, you get the idea…

Soulful enough to please the soulful house diehards, boasting enough of a pop sensibility to reach out beyond them, slickly and sumptuously produced, never boring and always delivered with both eyes fixed firmly on the dancefloor, Untold Business is a triumph.

Words: Russell Deeks

Release date: 25 June
 

 

 

Review Score: 9

 

 

 

Tags: Mark Knight, Toolroom Records, Beverly Knight, House Gospel Choir, Robert Owens, Gene Farris, Mr V, Michael Gray, D.Ramirez, soulful house, disco, soul, boogie