Back in 1989, a little heralded single about homelessness, filled with beautiful harmonies that belied the serious, sad nature of the song's lyrical content, became one of the year's best cuts and introduced much of the world to the group Perri. Now, 15 years after "Nowhere To Go," the lead singer behind that single, Lori Perry, has launched a long-awaited solo career powered by her strong, gospel-tinged voice.
California native Perry began singing as a young girl at church at the request of her grandfather, joining with her three older sisters Carol, Darlene and Sharon to form their church choir. The quartet continued to perform together as teens as the vocal group Perri, landing background vocal gigs based on their pitch-perfect harmonies, the first of which was for Jazz fusion artist Pat Metheny, and ultimately provided singing support for such artists as Roberta Flack, Seal, Cher and George Benson. Their biggest break came when Anita Baker invited them to serve as her backing singers on a world tour.
Perri's reputation earned the group a contract with Zebra/MCA Records in 1986. They recorded four albums, none of which charted high, but all of which received critical acclaim for their blend of jazzy rhythms and beautiful soulful harmonies. And Lori, with her strong alto voice blending elements of Jennifer Holiday, Gladys Knight and Anita Baker, became one of the great unheralded soul vocalists of the era. The sisters continued to work together, but stopped recording in the 90s. Lori also began to provide solo vocal support to jazz projects of others, and ultimately decided to record her first solo album, Wrote This Song, which was released in late 2004.
Wrote This Song is clearly a labor of love for Perry, as she showcases her vision of combining smooth jazz and soul stylings with spiritual themes. The disc opens with the wonderful title cut, a dead ringer for an Anita Baker number, as George Duke provides tasty piano work behind Perry's relatively restrained vocals. That number is followed by nine mostly self-penned songs, and there's not a throwaway in the bunch. Perry handles the ballads "When It's Done," "I Found It In You" and the touching "Nine Eleven" well, but it is on the melodic midtempto numbers, such as "On My Mind" and "No Longer Run," that the disc really shines. The smooth, tasteful instrumentation (including great work by Jazz/Gospel harpist Jeff Majors) and backing harmonies are contrasted beautifully by Perry's church-filled voice, and result in an extremely appealing sound that makes this album both engaging and memorable. In a year where lovers of classy, jazz influenced soul have been treated to great albums by strong female vocalists Anita Baker, Gabrielle Goodmanand Louise Perryman, listeners now have been gifted with another gem in the form of this excellent and long awaited return by Lori Perry. Highly recommended.
In 2006, Wrote this Song was repackaged with two new songs added, and was renamed Found It In You.
By Chris Rizik