In a pivotal scene from 1998’s hit comedy, The Wedding Singer, Sammy (Allen Covert) warns a jilted Robbie (Adam Sandler) to avoid the misguided Casanova moves he once adapted from fictional TV characters. “You know what happened to Fonzi and Vinny Barbarino? Their shows got canceled….because no one wants to see a 50-year-old guy hitting on chicks.”
That cold truth is the underlying sentiment prominently heard in Love, Charlie, the sixth studio CD by seasoned soulman “Uncle” Charlie Wilson. Yes, there’s a time to flex and floss, post up in VIP and assume the ‘playa playa’ role, but when you discover “The One,” monogamy is a classier look and she should be cherished and celebrated; this is a theme that resonates through all twelve tracks of this enjoyable and inspired release.
It may be surprising that Mr. Wilson’s latest effort doesn’t include hip-hop cameos from his younger music peers, nor are there too many club bangers, but that doesn’t mean that “Uncle Charlie” has less swagger this time around. Instead, the fact that Mr. Wilson co-wrote the entire CD with his wife Mahin (along with Wirlie Morris, Michael Paran and Carl M. Days Jr., to name a few) and pared down extra voices to a bare minimum lends more authenticity to the contents. “My Baby” is a fun party-starter of a jam, detailing all of the amazing attributes of his one and only, and “Ooh Wee” takes it down a notch, but retains an energetic edge thanks the twinkling chorus and playful Charlie-isms/ad-libs that make it flirty and fun.
Those Tulsa, OK roots of his are apparent in the countrified “I Think I’m In Love,” brimming with harmony-laden choruses and those familiar vocal scale runs that make it soar, and Uncle Charlie pledges his best to a lady who seems to have everything but love in the sauntering first single, “My Love Is All I Have”: “I may not have a bank account with seven figures, and I may not have a sailboat and a big ol’ mansion, oh no/ but I do know love you Baby, and in my own way, I’m rich as hell.”
No matter where listeners might be in their own unions, there’s a song on the CD that can meet them there, from the first hint of butterflies (“I Think I’m In Love”), proving one’s devotion (“A Million Ways To Love You”) and forging through life’s milestones, trials and tribulations for the long-term (“Our Anniversary” and the emotionally-charged anthem “I Still Have You”). His duet with Keith Sweat, “Whisper,” works out better than expected, but one of the true standouts is “Say,” a sinuously-unwinding slow jam laced with raindrops that features a wistful Charlie expressing gratitude for the lady in his life: “What if my lips never kissed yours, what if my soul never missed yours/ what if you kept me through my storms, Girl I just don’t know where I would be.”
For a man who has faced a lifetime of personal and professional challenges (years of drug addiction, a battle prostate cancer and a once-faltering post-Gap Band career), it may amaze people that Charlie Wilson continues to draw breath, much less sing with the same effortless energy that catapulted him and his brothers into legendary funkateer status in the first place. But what has kept the veteran performer in the game is an unwavering faith (which he expounds on with fervency in the opening track, “If I Believe”) and the wife of 18 years who inspired his latest CD. Fans may not be lucky enough to celebrate in person with Uncle Charlie as he welcomes the arrival of both new music and another birthday, but they can honor him with the gift of continued longevity by getting their own copy of the well-crafted and exuberantly-delivered Love, Charlie. Highly Recommended
By Melody Charles