As I mentioned in my last post, I recently attended our town library’s annual book sale. And towards the end of their $2/bag sale, I was in that grab-everything stupour that comes with the glee of getting a whole lot of cool stuff for next to nothing.
One of the things I grabbed was this CD. Why? Because I knew the name but not anything about her. What? Allow me to briefly explain. My lovely wife spends a lot of time in the car, commuting. In so doing, she listens to a lot of CBC radio. And I have a fuzzy memory of her telling me that she liked a song this lady did (Seven Day Fool, I found out later) because it reminded her of old soul songs. So I checked the quality of the disc (pristine) and threw it in the bag with everything else, think my lovely wife would be happy I’d found it.
At home, later, I gave her the CD and she was grateful but not too enthused. I asked what was up, she said the radio had played that damn song so much, she was burnt out on it. Ah well. Since I basically got it for nothing, no big loss! But I’m not the kind of guy who would let a CD sit in this house unplayed, nope, no way. So I gave it a spin and, you know something, it’s pretty damn fantastic.
I should preface the following by saying that I REALLY like the old soul music. It pleases me in a way nothing else quite can. Now, one of the things I strongly dislike about the ‘modern r&b’ is the over-singing. All that warbling and vibrato on every damn note, not to mention the damn auto-tune, and the notes so high only dogs can hear them… most of those people may have grown up listening to Aretha records but I don’t hear much of her in anything I ever heard from… hell, I’m not even gonna name names. You know who you are, don’t you! And I know, I know, I’m an old fogey who should at least acknowledge that times change and the modern music shouldn’t sound like it did when it was good. Well fine, but I still don’t like it.
DJ Play My Song starts out just with really busy drums, and vocals, but it builds and gets better as it goes along. It also has a cool guitar solo. Seven Day Fool, the one my lovely wife liked for a while (and originally an Etta James tune, which may help explain things), is one I had heard but didn’t know by title. It sounds like those old school Motown records, a lot of fun. But I could see how my lovely wife could eventually burn out on the novelty of it.
Queen has a reggae-feel beat and a good bounce to it. R&B exhortations over the back-up singers carrying the line works well. The horns are a nice addition. Just A Moment is the song where we get serious, with social commentary and life philosophy over a latin-feel and a huge bass end. With strings! Catch Me When I Fall is the searching, slow love song. Another throwback, and not at all annoyingly done. Cool.
My Baby is another sweeping old school soul track that melds old with the new quite well. Never Lost My Sight has a super-quick beat, and great singing with that classic 60s orchestra sound coming in at times. And it still has a throbbing bassline to keep today’s dance clubs happy, too. Temporary Insanity is the exact opposite in pacing, being a nice, slow jam. A lot of big stars would have some pan-flash rapper take an idiot-crap all over a song like this. But Black just sings it well, and keeps it soulful. Until I Say has more horns! I like horns!! And there’s finger snaps too. Another Spanish-type feel to this jam. When it builds, you’ll find your foot tapping and your head nodding along. Yeah!
Wishing has that whistling from Kill Bill in it. You know that one I mean… It’s actually called Twisted Nerve, though it was originally called Georgie’s Song (by Bernard Hermann) from the film Twisted Nerve (thanks, internet, for making me sound knowledgeable!). Anyway, at first I thought it was really out of place in this modern R&B track. That damned whistling is unsettling! But then I was listening more closely to the lyrics, and it turns out her man has left her, it’s a break-up song… so I think she’s about to go all Kill Bill on his ass! And finally, Wishing has big In The Air Tonight-type drums in the intro but quickly becomes another decent party track, this time with motivating lyrics – we need a pick-me-up after that last track! It has a great soul shout to it (with horns!), at the end.
This is a really satisfying modern R&B album that actually hews true to the old school without being obnoxious about it. It’s refreshing to hear her sing it unlike alot of the divas of today – just like I’d want a soul singer to do it, in this day and age. Did she auto-tune? Oh probably, but it never came across as obnoxious, not like some. I really enjoyed this. Revival, indeed!