The Observer

The record doctor: GABBY LOGAN

The diagnosis

The patient is suffering from a shortage of proper soul and needs her indie flames rekindling. There's also the problem of a panacea that will do the trick both for her and her 'cheesy Eighties'-loving husband.

Soulful soul was what the patient yearned for, so the Doctor sent her Lemar's Time to Grow, and Our Kind of Soul - the similarly unreconstructed new set by Hall and Oates. Chosen to scratch the same itch were the eponymous recent compilation by Joss Stone's spiritual mentor Bettye Swann, as well as Angie Stone's Mahogany Soul, and Bring it Back, the uplifting 2002 album by McAlmont & Butler.

Logan complained that hip hop was in a rut, so Bush Meat, the debut by east London rapper Infinite Lives, was sent her way. If Logan feels domestic bliss could blunt Coldplay's edge, she should try Athlete's The Tourist. If she liked Franz Ferdinand, the brittle art-pop of Silent Alarm - the debut by Bloc Party - should also appeal.

Paul Weller hailed Nic Armstrong's The Greatest White Liar so that goes in to. Lastly, and to bridge the matrimonial divide: the mutant Eighties pop of Gwen Stefani's Love Angel Music Baby and the careworn Caledonian folk-pop of James Yorkston and the Athletes' Just Beyond the River.


Logan was amused to learn why the Gwen Stefani album was chosen: 'Kenny and I were in the car and that was the first time he really responded to anything. We both liked James Yorkston as well, but that would be something you'd probably go for late at night.'

The indie recommendations fared less well: Athlete and Bloc Party 'failed to make a lasting impression'. Mahogany Soul made her resolve to 'get some more' Angie Stone. She liked Hall & Oates' 'organic approach' and the Bettye Swann tunes - which 'could teach several modern singers a thing or two'. The 'marvellously huge sound' of McAlmont & Butler was 'a wonderful surprise, given that I'd loved 'Yes' [their 1995 hit single] but didn't realise they'd made an album, let alone one this good.'

She was delighted with Lemar: 'I'd been dismissive of him because of Fame Academy, but his voice and his songs were excellent.' Infinite Livez was also a hit: 'Anyone with a song about male lactation has to have something going for them.'

But her favourite was Nic Armstrong: 'I lost the box, so I couldn't tell if he was new or old; or alive or dead. I guess its qualities were timeless. What? It was Paul Weller's album of the year? See? The man has impeccable taste ...'