Sweet Vibration (Labeame)
Maiko Watson’s solo debut may be a total career reinvention. An alumna of the early-00s build-a-band Sugar Jones, Watson has stripped away all bubble-gum-pop sensibilities, instead letting her fantastic voice soar through soulful numbers like Haunting Me and the piano-driven Another Day.
It’s hard to pull off a mature, engrossing album without coming off as contrived or sleep-inducing. But Watson’s songs don’t bash you over the head with bedroom clichés and are accessible enough for casual listeners of this genre. Watson, whose influences include Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight, has a sound that evokes classic soul but doesn’t ape it.
Top track: Haunting Me
Maiko Watson plays the Ossington tonight (Thursday, February 4).