Structured around a buoyant groove that moves with a light nimbleness – seemingly floating beside the melodic instrumentation as opposed to beneath it – there’s mistaking Kamoken and Malou Beauvoir’s take on “Higher Love” for the original single by Steve Winwood, and I mean this in the best way possible. In this rendition, Beauvoir’s vocal doesn’t hold down the track as a centerpiece but instead feels like another adornment beside the steel drum, the foundational percussion and the distant gaze of the synth. Kamoken has built this as a tribute vehicle to Winwood, and moreover, an underrated soul movement once surging in the 80’s (and now seeing a new avenue of output in the 21st century).
This is a lot more freeform than the old school “Higher Love,” but rarely does it feel as though the arrangement is improvised. There’s too focused of an attack from Beauvoir for me to hear the beat as uneven, and while the percussive element in the backdrop is clandestine and fleeting in a few critical spots, it has to be this way in order to let our singer guide the rhythm with her verse. There are no isolated components – everything here has a moving counterpart, unlike a lot of the other crossover pop I’ve heard recently.
Instrumentally and vocally spellbinding in a way I was more than happy to embrace, Kamoken and Malou Beauvoir shine like a couple of true stars in this unbeatable cover of “Higher Love,” and if you haven’t heard the song or seen its lyric video yet, December might be the right month to give them a shot. Covers tend to do better in collaborative settings than they do solo outings, and with these two players in charge of the content, audiences can rest assured that anything they record should be well worth your time.
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