- Moodymann and J Dilla's younger brother remix a cover of a soul classic.
- Sometime in the late '60s, the promising Chicago-born singer Ann Bridgeforth, AKA Little Ann, recorded an album's worth of material in the Detroit studio of Dave Hamilton, one of the unsung heroes of Motor City soul. By all accounts, the music didn't leave those four walls for roughly 20 years, until a British Northern soul collector named Ady Croasdell visited Hamilton's widow and decided to take a gamble on a box of reels scrawled with the words "The Possible Little Ann Album." A subsequent compilation, released in 1998, introduced the world to three of her songs, before, in 2009, the Finnish label Timmion Records went one step further and released the album, Deep Shadows.
The title track, which became so well known that Nike used it in a trainer ad, has since been covered several times, most recently by Nightmares On Wax for his eighth full-length, Shape The Future. From that came Deep Shadows Remixes, a four-track EP that pays homage to the track's origins, pairing reworks by the Detroit artists Illa J and Moodymann with two versions by Nightmares On Wax. His original cover, featuring the piercing vocals of the London singer Sadie Walker, sets a strong blueprint, with sunny sounds and a shapeshifting beat combining for a slice of classy pop. The "N.O.W. Club Mix" is more constrained and therefore less compelling, making only sparing use of the lovely vocal alongside disco flourishes and a rolling groove.
Both Detroit remixes are much more creative. Illa J, a rapper, producer and the younger brother of J Dilla, takes the upbeat funk of the original cover and super-sizes it, strapping the full vocal to a bassy beat, whistling melody and radiant synths. His own verse, veiled in a swirl of echo, is smooth and heartfelt. "Believe me Dilla, understand, it's hurting," he raps. Moodymann goes moodier, crafting a sombre cut that moves fluidly between groovy downtempo and 100-BPM house. Soft keys, ashen synths and low-end rumble create a dank atmosphere that casts the vocal and its heart-wrenching lyrics, roughly 40 years after they were written, in a powerful new light: "He doesn't know just how I feel / He don't seem to care / But my love is real."
A1 Deep Shadows (Illa J Remix)
A2 Deep Shadows
B1 Deep Shadows (N.O.W. Club Mix)
B2 Deep Shadows (Moodymann Remix)