In my ears, CHANTAY SAVAGE has progressed an awful lot since her dance / house oriented early recordings. Chantay's second set from 1996, I Will Survive, was already a step in a more soulful direction, and her latest CD This Time (US RCA 67607) proves to be an astonishingly strong soul set with extremely powerful vocals by Chantay.
The musical setting on the album is rather sparse, but not overtly "street"; many of the tracks are modern beat ballads in a Keith Sweat/ R.Kelly / Joe vein, Keith Sweat himself being a producer on one track. Chantay has co-written most of the tracks together with her producers, of which Daniel Weatherspoon has produced the most soulful tunes.
Chantay has a dark, impressive tone in her voice, and when she also uses it in a gritty way, she really stands out among the current R&B chart songstresses. Just listen to her delivery on the gospel-inclined ballad For Your Love, and you know that she really should not be compared to the monicas and monifahs of the world but rather to artists like Kelly Price, Vesta Williams or even Ann Nesby.
However, the most arresting cut on display is the surprising, Anita Baker-ish mellow soul creeper Funny Ways, which is set in a delicious quality soul backdrop with a smattering of real instruments, and Chantay sings the vocals in an incredibly superb, spine-tingling way. The closing three minutes are sheer heaven, with Chantay wailing in a delightful Baker-ish mood over the backing that is dominated by the jazzy piano soloing, solid back beat and funky bass licks. Marvellous stuff and definitely the peak cut of the whole year 1999 so far - no kidding!
The "smoothed out" version of the opening cut My Oh My is spiced by some nice vibes playing and horn samples over the solid mid-tempo groove - nothing wrong with the original version, either. The title track This Time is a classy traditional soul ballad with a quite smooth background, and the same can be said about Just Can't Take This. Of the several soulful beat ballads, Can It Be, Round and Round and If You Like are the most memorable, even if the last mentioned is melodically a dead ringer for Joe's The Love Scene.
An album that should not be overlooked by any modern soul fan. -IT
The review from the issue 3/99.
Other Albums of the Month in 1999
Albums of the Month in 1998
Albums of the Month in 1997
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