dimanche 2 août 2009

"Feel So Good" listening to /and looking at... Sean Ensign's CD

Yes, it feels good to listen to Sean Ensign's brand new CD Feel So Good I ordered via www.libertycitystore.co.uk because it's packed with high energetic dance anthems. It's not really a new album but a re-worked version of the previous one Finally, released in June 2006 by the big american guy, adding several brand new tracks to the old and well-known ones.

First, let's talk about Finally then. Independantly released on Titan Sounds and available via
www.cdbaby.com or www.perfectbeat.com for example, this first album collected 10 songs and 5 remixes. Five out of them have been released as singles, Without you, It's my life (finally), Everytime it rains (a cover of Ace of Base), I wanna be with you and Feel so good, with a full package of remixes by the cream of the cream of US/UK dance/house remixers. See for yourself : Hex Hector, Mike Cruz, Mike Rizzo, L.E.X., Georgie Porgie, Jack D.Elliott, Klubjumpers, Shanghai Surprize, Electric Allstars and more...
It looks like it is still available on cdbaby or perfectbeat but what decided me to buy Feel So Good on LibertyCity over Finally (that I nearly completely purchased already digitally) is that it has kept the 10 songs and binned the 5 remixes to add 3 brand new ones plus a megamix, and this new tracklisting (including a song called You keep me hangin' on that could only be full of cover promise) gave me the final move to order it to fulfill my need to have a real piece of Sean Ensign in my hands (lol) even though I already had it on my PC.

Before gettin' into the album track by track, let me add that it is all (but one) produced by Miami's West End studio producer Pete Masitti that is featured on keybords for some Hex Hector remixes, and all the songs that are not cover versions (there are only 3 out of the 13 here, which is a good rate for a dance artist's compilation) have been co-written by Sean Ensign. Who was thinking he was only a body without brain? And he's got a good voice too. So I guess we've found the real dance male diva (or divo?) who's got the full package to get to #1 in our hearts.

The album starts slowly with Disappear. It's all electronic music here but beautifully led by piano sounds and mid-tempo though uplifting ; a perfect builder for what's more to come. Renamed Disappear (Fade away) and remixed with usual partners, this one could easily become a single, appealing both to the contempory pop radios as well as dance clubs. Then comes Without you and its pulsating rhythm, power vocals and instant message ; "Without you, in my life/by my side..." life is with no meaning. A pure diva's delight for the dancefloor. Feel so good follows with some nearly industrial sounds and a nice key change when comes the chorus, then again a perfect anthem for clubs.
Then, on track 4, we find the second new recording, Fly away and the surprise is that it is a cover of Lutricia McNeal's 2000 dance hit. Although its intro here is all acoustic latin guitar, Sean's voice soon comes for the introduction chorus, all anthemic and powerful like it used to be with Lutricia on vocal duties. This new version keeps some diva power by featuring in the background amazing vocals by Charlotte McKinnon and it shines through the Sean sung chorus. Needless to say this masterpiece is the new single and first off this CD, with usual remixers on board, Porl Young (Shanghai Surprize) and Electric Allstars, plus Kumuchi, Julian Marsh and Blue Disco.
Put your hands on me changes the pace a little, with a syncopated R&B rhythm, reminiscent, I feel, of 90's New Jack Swing, even with a guitar-led bridge before more spanish guitar. I like it but maybe not enough hi-nrg for me. Maybe one of the oldest recordings included, I wonder. The notes say this compilation covers the years 1998 to 2008 and aren't the hits from Finally from 2006 ?
It's my life (finally) puts us back on the dancefloor, hands-in-the-air and all sweating to the rhythm of this new anthem that was the first recording featuring Charlotte McKinnon's yealings. Sometimes I think Sean's voices lacks some of her incredible power but overall he's good enough for the job : it's only when he competes with her voice that his sounds a lot thiner... What makes a dance artist's force is his voice, his songs but also the remixers/producers he's working with and his stage presence and when you talk about charisma, sure Sean Ensign's got what it takes ! He's got a nice face, über sexy body, with big pecs, abs and biceps, and from his videos, knows how to move with his dancers. He's involved with his releases as co-writer so I think he's here to stay now.
Following track, It's just sex, plays on that part of his appeal and delivers a message that will please a lot of clubbers : "don't mistake it for love, it's just sex". The message, loud and clear, is repeated ad repeated again to the crowd who knows damn well they're not here in the club to find love but to enjoy themselves and find some sex partner(s) to finish the night with.
After gettin' intimate with some clubbing partner, it is time to cool off in bed and Sean covers Ace Of Base's Rick Nowels & Billy Steinberg co-written Everytime it rains. Even though it has been remixed into a dance number with its release as a single, this is the romantic ballad version that grabs track #8 here. Another single comes next with I wanna be with you that sounds a bit like if it has been produced by the METRO team. Then again, we've got full speed rhythm, uplifting synthés and powerful vocals for anthemic chorus. That's what Sean does best so why ever complain ?
Then comes the Holland/Dozier/Holland's You keep me hangin' on that has been covered by an endless list of artist, incl. Kim Wilde amongst them, with more or less success. The promise of it made me wait for my CD to come with much anticipation and although the production is good, I feel there could have been more power put into it. It lacks some extra punch to get it all high above the dancing crowd. A single release is only guaranteed if remixed for me.
Slow piano notes and soft vocals make I can't deny start and we know it ain't stomper time no more, but time for ballad, hugs & kisses, candlelights and spanish guitar. The chorus is uplifting but it all sounds a little too tragic romantic for me. While Everytime it rains was a slow pop song, this one is a full ballad, nice enough though to not use the skip button, but wait for what's next to come. It's Inevitable and the only track that is not produced by Pete Masitti, but by Mike Waxman, who co-wrote it with Sean. It's starting all atmospherical and haunting before a mad rhythm starts, with whispers by Sean. It has been recorded at Purgatory Studios and it feels like it : being in some purgatory with hot and cold blowed over ourselves, calm breeze before galloping power chorus, and then again calm before pulsating beats. This one definitely is a work of art, clocking at 5'44, for it has taken its time to build it up to what it was destined to be : a dark & light electronical music symphony. We're no more in the passionate dance music era. It's just music with passion (it even ends with what sounds like a heart beating fast) and inspiration ; definitely not commercial but well worth its inclusion here.
"If I could turn back..." it goes with the last song of the CD, Turn back, and Pete Masitti is back on desks for a full-on galloping dance anthem. By bits, It sounds a little dated though so I guess it could be one of the oldest recordings after
Put your hands on me. It could have made us re-start our CD from track #1 but the guys behind this album wanted to help us with a good reminder ; so the CD closes with a megamix by LibertyCity remixers called Electric Allstars Medley. It includes Without you, It's my life (finally), Everytime it rains and I wanna be with you for a nearly 8'00 finale.

Sean Ensign is working on a new album so the three new tracks here must come from these new sessions and what is nice is that he's kept his sound for this new step in the music industry. This UK compilation will help me wait for this second US album and shall help others discover him and his music. His videos are widely available on Youtube or on his MySpace page www.myspace.com/seanensign and they are pleasure for the eyes, for sure. I like it either when he's performing with his dancers or when he's cooling off in bath suit in the pool or in his guy's big arms under the sun.

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