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Soul Express CD Review

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Lifetime of Love
US Earfull Records CD, 2008

1) Lifetime of Love
2) It Ain't Rainin'
3) Step Baby
4) Anyway You Want It
5) Woman
6) Do It
7) Work That Neck
8) Tonight
9) And Now
10) You Blew My Mind

Barry Towler already raved about Cornelius MD's four-track EP Step Baby, and here we have an album with all the tracks on the EP plus six more tunes. But I just realised that the six other tracks are actually picked from his older, 2006 album Anyway You Want It - so this set is virtually a compilation album. However, if you don't have any recordings by this singer, this CD is highly recommended.

Step Baby is really the crown of this set; the track has been built over a fabulous bass-wah-wah-guitar groove, highlighted by an asbolutely gorgeous muted trumpet soloing, and some lush horn arrangement in the classic Barry White style. Cornelius indeed sounds a lot like Barry White when he speaks - but I don't think Cornelius' singing voice is very close to Barry's. Cornelius has a rougher edge in his tone, while Barry had a more mellow and smooth voice. Anyway, Step Baby is one of the best soul tracks I've heard in last ten years, so I would claim buying this album or the 4-track EP is worth the price for this one track alone.

Cornelius has been performing tribute concerts to Barry White singing classic BW songs, but all the material on this album is original. Honestly I would have preferred more Barry White type of lush and orchestrated arrangements, but probably due to budget reasons what we get here is a more stripped down and more synthetised sound, which is a pity, since it would have been nice to hear Cornelius follow Barry's style also in the arrangements.

Still, Lifetime Of Love is a decent enough ballad even if it uses synth strings, especially when the rhythm guitar work is very stylish. As Barry mentioned, Do It and Work That Neck already have a more contemporary leaning, but those who appreciate tight funky grooves may find these sample based grooves quite compelling. In the same way, It Ain't Rainin' has a strong repetitive backing, but in a more Southern soul tone, and the track should appeal to those who still follow the Southern soul scene.

Any Way You Want It was the title of his previous album, and it's a bedroom ballad with some real instruments (but not a full orchestra), and again reminds me a lot of Barry White as long as Cornelius speaks, but not when he starts singing. Woman is another decent ballad song, this time in a rather simple beat backing, but spiced by a flute solo.

If Cornelius really wants to follow in the footsteps of Barry White, I think he essentially needs real musicians and a full orchestra - you cannot get a Barry White sound with low-budget machine backings like some of the more mediocre cuts on this album. However, Step Baby alone proves that with a decent musical support, Cornelius MD is able to create new masterpieces - and not only to cover old Barry White material.
-Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express

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