Armed with a proven map to success, a voice steeped in gospel, raw R&B and the stylistic phrasing of Bobby Womack, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke, the would be prince took a few ill-fated detours, including a failed Jodeci of his own called Undacova.
Armed with a proven map to success, a voice steeped in gospel, raw R&B and the stylistic phrasing of Bobby Womack, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke, the would be prince took a few ill-fated detours, including a failed Jodeci of his own called Undacova. The prince decided to take a solitary road leading to a land named Universal/Uptown Records, where the people were so excited by Richardson that they crowned him their "New Prince of Soul." Universal/Uptown soon released an album of his decrees entitled, Country Boy, in 1999, sparking critical acclaim by the elders of the land. Yet, despite the able vocal assistance of veteran knights, K-Ci and Chico DeBarge, and the prince's sensitive interpretation of Womack's "Wish You Didn't Trust Me So Much," his pronouncements went unheeded by the people. Unable to curry favor with the people of this foreign land, the prince asked to be released from his royal obligations to pursue another kingdom elsewhere, a beckoning land called Hollywood Records.
In 2003, Richardson delivered 2:35pm, a wiser, more sophisticated set of statutes named after the time of his second son's, Souljah, birth. On 2:35pm, stronger traces of a royal star in the making were evident with such singles as "Keep On Pushin," a track evoking the gospel infused sound of Cooke. The sizzling jazz/soul trimmings of"More Than A Woman," a romantic duet with Richardson's then betrothed, soul Queen Angie Stone, made the prince appear a king. Though "More Than A Woman" did receive a 2003 Grammy Award nomination for this royal coupling, the people of Hollywood Records were disappointed by the lack of public support for this very expensive royal court, one raiding Hollywood's coffers of $1 million dollars. The soul prince soon found himself banished from the land and separated from his Queen.
Undaunted by this troubled past, Richardson continued his quest by preparing yet a third project all the more determined to win over the people. After five laboring years, the older prince finally crafted a canon powerful enough to impress the independent giant, Shanachie Entertainment. Now with the support of this gentle giant, the prince returns with a vengeance on the self-produced and arranged When Love Comes, ready to capture the attention of his people at last.
A little weary and cynical from his many trials and tribulations, the prince boldly proclaims in When Love Comes soul slamming intro: "I've been slept on, hated on, and like a restaurant, waited on." More weariness is on display when the prince discusses his matter-of-fact view on romance and dissatisfaction with the record industry, digging in his claws with crafty wordplay. On a rather sensual track, "Please Ya Baby," Richardson emphatically states his case regarding the plight of the real soul singers being unfairly treated by major record label conglomerates. However, When Love Comes, isn't an album of bitterness and regrets, but one by a sensual troubadour ready to provide some sexual healing.
After years of charming the ladies-in-waiting, Richardson has honed his knack for setting the appropriate mood with his seamless vocals. "Fire In The Attic" caresses the senses with pure ecstasy and intricate poetry, "I wanna' play you like Santana plays the strings on his guitar, and hold you like a trumpet in the picture of Dizzy Gillespie's blowing, look right there, on the wall." "She's Hurtin,'" a song about comforting a woman failing to find her love mate in the clubs, unveils a vulnerable side of our prince, especially during the pulsating hook, "she's hurtin'; she's sweatin'." "Don't Go" sketches an elegant illustration of how a woman's soft touch is empowering, "the strength of an athlete with a touch so gentle that it brought Hercules to his knees." For those who are wondering about Richard's signature older-school flavor, that base is covered on the first single, "Sang No More," with its magnetic doo-wop foundation.
When Love Comes should finally end the dark curse thwarting this deserving prince's reign. When Love Comes finds Richardson extending his creative vision by amazingly incorporating his classic soul inspirations with a modern R&B angle, fashioning a very special treat for the loyal. The "New Prince of Soul" has clearly arrived to reestablish his kingdom of followers, those who crave the real deal over some of the manufactured fare on the current urban market. Highly Recommended.
By Peggy Oliver