Chaka Khan - Hello Happiness

80

The Guardian

(Diary)

The grotesque inflation of concert ticket prices has helped to mitigate losses sustained by the recorded music industry. That 15-year boom has seen so many heritage acts return to the stage, and after doggedly touring the hits, more and more of them are back in the studio too. At the very least it offers the opportunity to freshen up cabaret-ready live setlists. Chaka Khan might not need a new album to sell tickets, and there’s no song here that would make an encore, but Hello Happiness is a vital calling card to remind everyone to come hear this unearthly voice, still sizzling with spice.

Producer Switch sashays through a bunch of styles, taking on orchestral disco, blues, funk and even a little dubstep with a bright confidence. Thankfully, there are no awkward duets, but instead seven paeans to the consoling powers of love and music. The dramatic, smouldering Too Hot is the standout, but this is a consistently impressive album. “Take me back to the dancefloor so I can dance away my blues,” Khan implores on the title track, before dragging you into the thrill of the throng.

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Sun Feb 17 09:00:38 CET 2019

60

The Guardian

(Diary/Island)

On paper, Chaka Khan’s first album in 12 years could be read as another attempt by a vogueish producer (in this case, former Major Lazer member Switch, alongside songwriter/producer Sarah Ruba) to drag a genre-breaking legend into the sound of now. However, unlike Will.I.Am remixing Michael Jackson, or Giorgio Moroder allowing external producers to bastardise his trademark Europop on 2015’s messy Déjà Vu, the seven-track Hello Happiness pays respect to Khan’s funk and disco heydays, drawing a through-line via modern production’s showy window dressing.

The album arrives at an interesting juncture in Khan’s career. In 2016, still reeling from the death of her friend Prince, Khan, along with her sister, checked into rehab to treat an addiction to painkillers, stating she “knew it was time to take action to save our lives”. That sense of clarity permeates the album’s title track, where Khan joyously sings “Music makes me say goodbye sadness, hello happiness” over an elastic bass line and chunky synths. She struts around the melody before finally letting go with a sky-rocketing cry of “Wanna dance, wanna dance” that makes the song feel sweaty. That sensation continues into the throbbing, disco-tinged Like a Lady, while the irresistible funk of lead single Like Sugar cleverly creates pockets of space for Khan’s rip-roaring vocal interjections to fade in and out, as if she’s having so much fun dancing she forgot to step up to the mic.

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Fri Feb 15 10:00:12 CET 2019

59

Pitchfork

Co-produced by UK dance mainstay Switch, this comeback album largely ignores all the qualities that made the Queen of Funk a legend in the first place.

Wed Feb 20 07:00:00 CET 2019