Grand Central - 2004 - 40 minutes

Grand Central label boss, one half of Rae & Christian and now fully-fledged solo artist, 'Into the Depths' finds Manchester-based Mark Rae diving for pearls and continuing the adventure that began on his 2002 debut 'Rae Road'.

While others seem determined to test listeners' patience with albums that run for over an hour, Rae fits all the magic in to 40 minutes - one side of a tape. And that nod to the old school continues across the wonderful live-sounding soul and funk tracks Rae has come up with here - there's even a nod to the Miami Vice theme on instrumental 'Rise Up'.

The players assembled are superb and while there are great vocals from Peter Simpson and long-time collaborator Veba, it's Rae himself that sings one of the most memorable tracks, the moody 'San Francisco'.

For his next record he should go front and centre far more often, in the meantime there are so many treasures to discover here that you'll find it hard to come up for air.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Into the Depths - Mind, Body and Soul - Without You Now - Medicine - Rise Up - Reach Out to Me - Put It Back Together - Clip My Wings - Depth Charge - Gato - San Francisco