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Soul Express Album Review

Coming Home

US/UK Island/Def Jam, 2006
1) I Call It Love 2) All Around The World 3) What You Are 4)Up All Night 5) Sweet Vacation 6) Coming Home 7 Why 8) I Love You 9) Reason To Believe 10) Outta My Head

I have long been a fan of Lionel Richie. I think he’s a genius. However, I have not been stimulated by any of his material this side of 2000. To me there has been too much trying to appeal to the young set and this album is probably the worst album he has ever made. It is as if he has forgotten he is Lionel Richie. One would not know that this was the same man who wrote "Three Times A Lady". It saddens me to see this man relegated to a label such as Def Jam anyway – but that’s just my own opinion.

The first single is "I Call It Love". It’s an inoffensive slab of pop soul aimed at those who would buy a Beyoncé or Lemar album. It's not setting me alight and it is not memorable for the greater part. I cannot deny that vocally the man is on top form, but the material is just so pedestrian, weak, and passé. "All Around The World" tries to inject a fruitier uptempo flavour but instead of going around the world seems to land with a dull splash somewhere in the mid atlantic.

The ballads are riddled with the awful homeboy acoustic keyboard that is most often heard on such TV gems as the Holiday Programme. I get visions of a leathery Judith Chalmers propping up a bar somewhere in Gran Caneria when I hear songs like this. Oh, its all been done before. "Up All Night" is a dreadful song that is a mix of Usher / Beyonce and Eurovision a la Turkey’s entry. Deary me.

The only song I can thoroughly 100% recommend here is "Sweet Vacation" with its truly happy summer vibe and 80s. Not sure what many readers will make of it, though as it is more in the pop bag. If this were a single I would definitely buy it, and would recommend a download from iTunes or the like, but NOT worth spending out for the album to get it. If you, like me, appreciate more AOR / West Coast music then you will like "Coming Home". "Why" is also not too bad and is possibly a grower BUT is ruined with the BBC’s Holiday Programme instrumentation and is just too much like the kids’ R&B for my liking.

I don’t know how much longer we will have to put up with material like this – probably as long as he is tied to the Island / Def Jam stable I imagine. When will these people realise that we are not all 13 years old? Come on, Lionel, let’s be having you! You are capable of more than this. -Barry Towler

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