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Chaka Khan’s ‘Hello Happiness’ is a mini bundle of joy

Published:Wednesday | February 20, 2019 | 12:00 AM
This cover image released by Diary Records/Island Records shows ''Hello Happiness'', the latest release by Chaka Khan.

With just seven songs in 28 minutes, Chaka Khan’s Hello Happiness is a little bundle of joy emphasis on little. But you shouldn’t feel short-changed.

Consider it, instead, as a corrective to all those over-long, overblown collections of incessant sonic doodles, and listen up as the iconic singer makes her feelings and intentions clear from the start:“Music makes me say/Goodbye sadness/Hello happiness.”

Khan’s clarity of purpose comes on the back of a dramatic awakening after the 2016 death of Prince, a close collaborator, which helped her confront her own addiction to prescription drugs.

The title track is a good sampler for the rest of the record – deep grooves, dance-floor beats, and Khan’s excellent voice, which, even decades after her days with Chicago funksters Rufus, and a dozen years after her last solo release, has not lost the ability to create its own flow while forming a tight connection to each song.

The production, from Switch and Sarah Ruba Taylor, applies just the right amount of 'now' sounds to classic disco and funk structures, with some space judiciously reserved for rapturous reggae on Isn’t That Enough and a gliding acoustic guitar and tap-tap-tapping percussion on cosy closer Ladylike.

Elsewhere, the scalding, exuberant Too Hot isn’t shy to describe the kind of man who’ll earn a 'swipe right', and Like Sugar, a contortionist’s dream, features Khan on timbales and is based on the Fatback Band’s (Are You Ready) Do the Bus Stop.

Chaka Khan has found some contentment, and Hello Happiness is gratifying proof.