Saun and Starr at the Jazz Cafe
Female soul duos are rare (the Soul Sisters are the only ones from the sixties that spring to mind), but the latest Daptone act to record under their own names - Saun and Starr - are welcome additions to this short list. Originally from the Bronx, Saundra Williams and Starr Duncan Love, met at an open mic competition in 1986 and sang together for many years before moving on to provide backing for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (as the Dapettes), which they've done for the last few years. They showed at the Jazz Cafe that they are more than capable of holding their own front of stage.
Daptone released their first album, Look Closer, earlier this year and many of the numbers they sang were from that collection, although I have to admit that there were several that I was unable to recognise. They both have superb voices which combine well together on duets and also on solo numbers where one or other of them takes the lead with backing from the other. They began with Hot Shot, their first single, an upbeat number which showed off Starr's big voice (to match her big frame) to good effect. Gonna Make Time was another good song and there were hints of Millie Jackson or Shirley Brown as the pair exchanged spoken comments.Other numbers from their album included Hey Baby and the Northern soul flavoured Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. Saun slowed things down as she remembered her father, who died shortly before recording the ballad If Only, and she asked for a big shout out for Sharon Jones as they launched into Sunshine (You're Blowin' My Cool).
The excellent Daptone band left the stage at this point and the ladies showed off their gospel roots with a a couple of gospel numbers. The crowded club went quiet as they sang Down By the Riverside off mic, further demonstrating their vocal power, followed by Sweeping Through the City. The band returned and, after Another Love Like Mine, they launched into Look Closer, a superbly soulful song and probably the best of the night. Returning for an encore they continued with another great track, Big Wheel.
Whether Saun and Starr break through into wider consciousness remains to be seen, but they work well together and sound great. Daptone has shown yet again that true sixties style soul is still alive and kicking.