TALK ME DOWN UK Unleashthe80s Records, 2001
1) Til You (Intro) 2) Til You 3)
The Magic of You 4) Dear John 5) Looking for One
Good Man 6) Talk Me Down 7) A Woman's Love 8)
Sweet Breath of Life 9) Fortune 10) Black and
White 11) A Candle Produced by Vaneese Thomas, Wayne
Warnecke, Michael Colina
While I reviewed Vaneese Thomas'
untitled debut set back in 1987, I claimed that
the material on her debut set even outshined Anita
Baker's Rapture album. And when
I now state that this sophomore set by Vaneese
easily outshines her debut set in every aspect,
you have some idea about the quality of this
album. What we have here is no less than the best
soul album recorded by a female artist in the
whole 90s - this CD was recorded in 1993.
The only possible criticism I could imagine of
this CD is that it is not as unique or
trailblazing as for instance the aforementioned Rapture
set. This album is more bound to become a
critical success and a cult album amongst soul
devotees than any commercial milestone and a new
trendsetter for the following years. In fact, you
could even blame this album for being
conservative - there's nothing new in its formula
and overall style - but it's simply perfect in
its own particular genre: quality soul of the
In my review of Vaneesa's debut album I also
stated that her greatest advantage is her ability
to write first class soul songs and produce
herself. This applies here as well: the strength
of this CD starts from the extremely tasteful
songs, most of them co-penned by Vaneesa herself.
What's even more important, Vaneese has also
vastly improved as a vocalist. She sounded very
professional already while recording her debut
album in 1987, but when this album was recorded
six years later, she sounded absolutely stunning.
Her basic tone is thoroughly soulful and
expressive (at places reminding me of Patti
Austin - but more powerful), and just
listen to her ad-libbing at the end of almost any
song - sheer ecstasy.
Add to this that the overall sound of this CD is
second to none, and virtually each track is
coloured by tasty instrumental details in the
form of saxophone, piano or other solos. The
guest musicians and backing singers include Kirk
Whalum, Bob Baldwin, Cynthia Biggs, Patti Austin,
Sharon Bryant, Fonzi Thornton etc.
There are no weak moments in this CD, but that
doesn't mean that there are no peaks. On the
contrary, there are several tracks that would
qualify for the song of the year!
For those who like their soul deep and
traditional, check out tracks like A Woman's Love
or Dear John - and you simply can't get
deeper than that on any soul album by a female
artist in recent years.
On the other hand, if you prefer a more modern
touch in the Anita Baker / Regina Belle mould,
try tracks like The Magic of You, Talk Me
Down or Til You, and you have songs
that are destined to become your all-time
The number one tune in my book is The Magic of You, which is an absolutely gorgeous Baker-ish mid-swayer (written by Vaneese with Bob Baldwin) highlighted by a robust saxophone solo over a beaming piano backing - and Vaneese's vocal delivery is phenomenal. The title track is equally breathtaking with its incredibly fascinating melody and a delicious piano solo. Also, the lyrics simply urge soulful interpretation: "you lift me up so high I can barely breathe", "the flames of our desire keep me burnin'", "boy I go to heaven it's so physical I get carried away" etc. Classy in extreme.
Read more about Vaneese elsewhere in our forthcoming issue 3/01, and just make sure that you won't miss this CD! (10) -IT