Quietly breaking through in 1996 with the MuchMusic hits "Eastbound" and "Unconditional", Haydn "Jacksoul" Neale proved to bring one of the first Canadian soul albums which was at once unique (unlike U.S.- lite efforts from the likes of Carlos Morgan), intelligent and emminently enjoyable.
Adopting a very jazz-inclined live band for the record (a concept he would ditch for his disappointing follow-up), Neale works several angles of subtle, sexy, swaggering late-night soul and funk. At times it stays just on the safe side of smooth jazz, but all that is forgotten by the time you reach his infectious Hamilton hommage "Eastbound" (check the nod to "Soulful Strut" at the end), the soaringly gorgeous "Unconditional" (which would sound lovely pouring out of an Annex flat on a mid-July evening) and the back-to-basics club jazz of "Show You Love". Along the way you can spot Neale dipping into a little hip-hop, though not too much to spoil this highly melodic affair. It's all in good company with the likes of Maxwell and D'Angelo, but would either of them sprinkle in shouts to the 401? I think not.
"ABsolute" is absolutely a conquest for Canadian soul (yes we can!) and one of the better 90's nu-soul offerings all in one. Who could ask for more?