The voices that encouraged Carleen Anderson to go ahead and make the great neo-soul album she is capable of should be happy: she only half listened to them. "Soul Providence" can't just be defined by the term "neo-soul" particularly in its sometimes limited though well -intentioned form that we sometimes see it in commercially. Instead Carleen has followed her own voice and musical path: taking soul as a starting point to unite elements of "neo-soul", blues, jazz , even some gospel and Latin in an album that is polished and organic at the same time. I even hear some '70's soul in the basslines in "Little Wouldn't I Do". I may be wrong, but one thing I know: she puts it all together wonderfully. The horns add a special touch with Carleen's tight harmonies bringing it all together (with the help of friends like Paul Weller and Jocelyn Brown) : it doesn't have a "don't take this out of the studio" feel, but sounds like the kind of album and performance you'd love to see live --especially but not exclusively "My Door is Open". If that song doesn't get you to move (with the fantastic horn section) --play it again: it eventually will.
Some may think this album should have been recorded after "True Spirit" but I disagree: I don't see her musical vision here as solely owing to that first solo effort but a progression that also reveals elements of "Blessed Burden" ("Just Like Me" for example takes me back to her second album) and "Alberta's Granddaughter". It's the album that came at the right time, where all the elements come together in a cohesive whole that is still diverse: a difficult feat that many an artist wishes s/he could pull off. As it says in the liner notes: "Patience finds Soul Providence, neither too late, nor too soon."
On top of it all, as usual, Carleen's lyrics make you feel good about life and particularly about love, in all its forms. "Whose Business" is a particularly timely statement about the freedom of love. Her ending (as in her other albums) is encouragement for her listener: no matter how hard things get "Onwards & Forwards". With this perfect blend of her musical vision and a voice that deftly blends her rich alto with the boundless soprano Carleen has assured that her career will do the same. Do yourself a favor, pick this album up and share in Carleen's "soul stream". You won't regret it.