New Territories – Eric Lau

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It could be said that Dilla’s influence looms large over Eric Lau’s solo debut, but only as a point of reference and not a blueprint to recreate. What separates New Territories from other hip-hop/soul albums is the airy quality of hthe sounds embracing the head-nodding beats. A rural state of mind is found within the urban bump, which attracts the ear almost immediately.

Beyond that, it’s great to hear so many new vocalists on this album, each of whom puts their best foot forward. You can hear the guilt and regret in Tawiah’s voice on “I Don’t Do It To” or the contemplation and determination in Tosin’s velvet tones on “Don’t Let Them”. Other highlights include the chicken-scratch funk-infused “Final Chance” and the slick percussive slap that is “Let It Out”, featuring exquisite vocals from Rahel. Consider Eric Lau a producer on the rise. With him around, the future of soul music is secure.