showed a great deal of promise when she was with Soul II Soul
, but the earthy diva made it especially obvious just how much depth she was capable of when she launched her solo career with the individualistic U.K. Blak
. Like albums by other British R&B and dance music acts of the late '80s and early '90s -- including Soul II Soul
, the Chimes
and Lisa Stansfield
-- this sleek yet gritty album contains up-to-date (by 1990 standards) hip-hop elements, yet draws heavily on soul music's rich gospel heritage. The fact that U.K. Blak
has so much more warmth and substance than most of the formulaic '90s R&B recorded on this side of the Atlantic is evident on riveting neosoul ("neo" for 1990) treasures ranging from "Blue (Is the Colour of Pain)" and the moving "Livin' in the Light" to the haunting and introspective a cappella number "Somewhere." Reggae has been long enjoyed tremendous popularity in the Afro-British community, and Wheeler
focuses on reggae's lighter side with the very likeable results on "Jamaica" and "Proud."