Mama Knew Love – Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens – Since I Seen’t You –
Charlene – I’m A Mess – Comin’ From Where I’m From – Better Days – Lucille –
Float – My First Love (feat LaToiya Williams) – Chyna Black – I Tried
I heard a few crackin’ songs from this online, and when I received the CD
through the post I was horrified to see that the producer was no more than
Jermaine Dupri – he of rap music fame. I have to take my hat off to the
chap, and admit that he has done a very good job on this CD and better than the
usual juvenile-aimed tripe he is more accustomed to putting out. So, on the face
of it I should hate this CD. But I don’t. I LOVE IT!
This may take some readers
a while to get into, as it did me, but what a talent this man is, and Jermaine
really needs his hand shaking for bringing us this artist and allowing him to do
his thing. I hear all the raw, gritty soul of historic predecessors such as
Bobby Womack and Teddy Pendergrass and I hear more modern talents such as Calvin
Richardson and K-Ci Hailey in the man’s vocal talents.
Musically, although it
can be a bit bass heavy it is firmly in the Neo-Soul bag and is rootsy, gruff
and unapologisingly anti-new R&B as you will find from today’s major label
offerings. The CD gets more impressive with every play, and as such is how
Aretha’s new CD hit me. There’s actually only 1 track on this album that I don’t
like and that’s "Chyna Black" which left me wondering what the hell it was doing
on the CD! Skip that and what we have here is a great CD by a real talent and I
implore you to check it out.
I will describe my real favourites, as space will
not allow me to go on ad infinitum! "Since I Seen’t You" is a hammond-based
foot-tapper and Anthony’s rough, gritty voice is ably backed up by some great
backing vocalists and a tasty melody behind the beats. This straight from the
book of Calvin Richardson a la his Country Boy album. "I’m A Mess" is a
gospel-tinged ballad which has our man flexing his gravelly voice over a lazy,
thick laden beat accompanied by real instrumentation so fans of the neo-soul
genre will love this.
There is a flavour of the Curtom sound in the make-up of
the socially conscious and personal "Comin’ From Where I’m From". This deals
with the reality of a hard upbringing without the nasty trappings of the current
rap tradition. The gorgeous Fender Rhodes are very strong on "Better Days", and
Anthony shows how flexible his vocals are as he smoothes us down with a more
gentler performance and as such it is absolutely an essential track.
surprise on this CD is the cover version of the old Country song, "Lucille" –
but if you did not know this was once a Country & Western song you would
NEVER know. This is in the vein of Tommy Sims and I cannot believe what a
fantastic job Anthony has done on this acoustic number. Phenomenal soul for
"Float" is another pleasing track, and so is the lovely "My First Love"
which features a young lady called LaToiya Williams who sounds like a younger
Genobia Jeter!!! Now, that is something to get excited about. This young Lady is
far more talented than Brandy, Mary J, Ashanti, Beyonce and the rest of the
pretty-girl clones you can think of that are currently flavour of the month.
Will her solo material be as good as this though? Let’s wait and see.
So, what I
expected to be a fair 1 or 2 tracker served to be a big, big surprise and the
folks at Arista / So So Def need congratulating for this set of contemporary,
gutsy, rough-edged rootsy neo-soul. AND on a major label too! Can they keep this