Labeled by his musical friends as a "Vocal Freak of Nature," Atlanta-based Adam McKnight has gained a reputation over the past half decade as a singer's singer. He has been a staple in the Atlanta soul scene and has performed with a number of major artists, including Diana Ross, Aaron Neville and Stevie Wonder. He also co-wrote, performed, produced and independently released the critically acclaimed album Are You Listening for the Gospel group Voices of Atlanta.
McKnight's career highlight came in 2004, when he arranged the background vocals and recorded eight tracks on Elton John's Peachtree Road album and toured with John internationally.
In early 2005, McKnight completed his solo debut album, the independently released Determination. For the uninitiated, Determination is a nice introduction to a simply superb voice. While many would automatically compare McKnight's rich baritone to Luther Vandross, a closer comparison would be to Carl Anderson. In fact, Determination bears resemblance to Anderson's early 90s work with Russ Freeman on GRP Records, with many of the same highs and lows. Like Anderson, McKnight is a uniquely gifted singer working with material that isn't always of equal quality. A large portion of Determination consists of rather generic smooth jazz-type uptempo numbers that lack musical or lyrical distinction, save his consistently strong voice. Things get better on the more authentic jazzy ballad "Many Times" (the album's best cut) and the closing songs "Spirit In Love" and "Together We Can," which sound similar to Luther Vandross's late 80s work with Gregory Hines. It is on these songs where the material is worthy of McKnight's strong vocal performance and where Determination reaches its undisputed high point.
While it is musically inconsistent, I'm glad to have heard Determination and to be introduced to Adam McKnight. I believe he will be a singer to keep and eye on, and one who, with more consistently strong, distinctive material, has the talent to become a major artist.
by Chris Rizik