October London - Colorblind Love

October London
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October London - Colorblind Love

When one hears the phrase “presented by Snoop Dogg,” one isn’t entirely certain what to expect. Are we talking the Snoop Dogg that presents ratchet pimp pornos or the Snoop Dogg that is stirring a creamy roux next to Good Housekeeping impresario Martha Stewart? In this instance, with the introduction of the young soul crooner, October London, we get the Snoop Dogg who has been devotedly in love with his wife for more than two decades and has always had a backdrop of classic soul and funk sounds to his less than wholesome flows. He’s also absent from this presentation in body, but not in taste. Through London’s stellar debut project, we get a travelogue through the annals of classic soul, a feat pulled off most recently by artists like Robin Thicke and R. Kelly, but this time without the principled icks that come in supporting either controversial artists’ work.

October London - Colorblind Love

When one hears the phrase “presented by Snoop Dogg,” one isn’t entirely certain what to expect. Are we talking the Snoop Dogg that presents ratchet pimp pornos or the Snoop Dogg that is stirring a creamy roux next to Good Housekeeping impresario Martha Stewart? In this instance, with the introduction of the young soul crooner, October London, we get the Snoop Dogg who has been devotedly in love with his wife for more than two decades and has always had a backdrop of classic soul and funk sounds to his less than wholesome flows. He’s also absent from this presentation in body, but not in taste. Through London’s stellar debut project, we get a travelogue through the annals of classic soul, a feat pulled off most recently by artists like Robin Thicke and R. Kelly, but this time without the principled icks that come in supporting either controversial artists’ work.

A relative newcomer to the commercial scene, London is an exceptionally versatile vocalist who can evoke various beloved artists of yesteryear with a sense of humor and a knowing irony. Like his counterparts Anderson.Paak and BJ The Chicago Kid, London lays, over classic sounds, contemporary lyrics that can be as rough as they are soothing, with more of the latter than the former. As a lyricist, London is direct and clear, even as his storytelling is more promise than arrival (there are notable non-linear jumps in his laundry list of offenses on his single, “Black Man in America”). His artistry is one that impresses in both what is and what is expected to come.

As a project, Colorblind Love is too familiar in the way a covers album too often is to be considered a classic debut in the ways that say a Carl Thomas, D’Angelo, or even Keith Sweat’s first albums were, even as all of the songs here save one (a flawless recreation of Smokey Robinson’s “Quiet Storm”) are originals. Its familiarity is also why it works. These are the nostalgic sunshine streets and blue-lit night sounds we miss and are always happy to embrace when well executed by a confident talent. With veteran producer Jazze Pha (Ciara, Usher, Monica, Aaliyah, Fantasia) behind the boards, the era of our parents is perfectly captured. It helps that the era is one that Deniece “Niecey” Williams’ son, Mr. Pha, would know quite well.

Whether London is doing an impression of Marvin Gaye (“Color Blind,” “Slow Dance,” and “Bring Me Up” featuring Faith Evans), Al Green (“Shoulder To Lean On”), or Donny Hathaway (“Black Man in America”), he’s never less than authentic and sincere. His not so subtle approach isn’t a talent show doppleganger as much as heavily influenced by the greats, and he does so smiling all the way through with the knowledge that he has the chops to pull it off, especially on a cut like “Love in the Summer.” In this way, R. Kelly’s woefully unsung Write Me Back and the too-on-the nose re-creations of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines are apt antecedents. Only with London you get to lean back, smile with him, and enjoy this easy trip down memory lane, without any creepy backstories interrupting your conscious or good time. Highly Recommended.

By L. Michael Gipson

 
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