Come Walk with Me
(US Harmony CD, 1997)
1) Holy Is the Lamb 2) I Will Love You 3) What Price 4) Come and Walk with Me 5) If You're Willing 6) This Love Won't Fail 7) Wash, O God, Our Sons & Daughters 8) The Captain of My Ship 9) Never Far Away 10) Beams of Heaven
While Oleta's 1993 album Evolution was practically straight pop/MOR from start to finish and on the following set, Movin 'On, still nearly half of the songs were very MOR inclined, this time the material is clearly more soulful, and the best thing is that Michael Powell - who produced all the best cuts on the Movin' On album - has now produced the whole album together with Oleta. Thus, the sounds are typically splendid for Powell: Oleta herself plays the acoustic piano and additional keyboards, while Powell is responsible for the guitar and live percussion, and Paul Riser has arranged the live strings.
Still, the most important thing is that Oleta now sounds better than ever, bending and shaping her gorgeous voice in an utterly convincing way on such tracks as the peachy The Captain of My Ship, the Anita Baker-ish mellow floater I Will Love You (featuring Special Gift on background vocals), the simple yet impressive opening track Holy Is the Lamb, the rootsy Never Far Away, the slowly wriggling What Price or the beautiful Skip Scarborough co-written This Love Won't Fail. The sole uptempo track If You're Willing rolls along deliciously and reminds me of The Winans at their best. '
And I have yet to mention my number one pick of the album, the glorious title track Come Walk with Me with its noble melody line and majestic interpretation by Oleta. The last two minutes of the song are truly breathtaking, when Oleta starts wailing the chorus in her painstakingly melismatic way.
I have previously written that as a vocalist, I rate Oleta in the same category as Gladys Knight, Phyllis Hyman, Anita Baker, Regina Belle and Stephanie Mills, and this album certainly confirms my earlier opinion.