Carol Riddick - Love Phases (2015)

Carol Riddick
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I don’t know what accounts for the nine years that lapsed between Carol Riddick’s stunning debut, Moments Like This, and her excellent follow up, <strong">Love Phases. But then too, I kinda do. It’s probably the story of funding issues and life issues. But mainly funding, or trying to muster up enough cash to ensure that Love Phases is a record that conforms to the Philly native’s creative vision. Admittedly, I’m just speculating.

I don’t know what accounts for the nine years that lapsed between Carol Riddick’s stunning debut, Moments Like This, and her excellent follow up, <strong">Love Phases. But then too, I kinda do. It’s probably the story of funding issues and life issues. But mainly funding, or trying to muster up enough cash to ensure that Love Phases is a record that conforms to the Philly native’s creative vision. Admittedly, I’m just speculating.

Listening back to her 2006 roll out, I’m sure that plenty of Riddick fans expended all the patience that they could muster as they waited for the sequel, and their patience has been rewarded with the solid sophomore effort, Love Phases. This new project reveals that Riddick possessed the confidence in her ability as an artist to make the kind of subtle yet noticeable changes that always carry the risk of alienating long-time fans without any assurance that she will be able to replace them with new ones.

I thought that Moments Like This had more of a alt-soul sound, especially on tracks such as “Brown Eyed Girl” that harken back to some of the experimental stuff that artists like Minnie Riperton were doing in the early 1970s, whereas Love Phases has more of a contemporary soul/adult R&B feel.

However, the quality of the tunes along with investment made in the overall production means that Riddick will attract new fans while maintaining the fan base that signed on back in 2006.

To capture the virtues of this project, let’s start at the end – or near the end – with Riddick’s duet with Will Downing on “The Way You Say My Name.” a simmering track that strikes the perfect balance between romance and sensuality. Downing should just change his middle name to “much sought after” because there aren’t too many better at merging smoothness with sexiness. And on this track, Downing’s muscular baritone is the perfect pairing for Riddick.

Riddick gives listeners plenty of musical food from beginning to end. “Love Like I’ve Never Been Hurt Before,” scores from the start with its synthesized strings establishing a sense of drama on a tune that sports a narrative of a woman seeking to untether herself from past failed relationships and view this second chance through the  eyes of someone loving for the first time.

As if she is acknowledging that that kind of wide eyed idealism has its limits, Riddick flips it 180 on the cautionary “Stop, Go Back.” This is another drama filled track, albeit sporting more of a percussive mid-tempo funk augmented with gospel tinged piano flourishes. The hook, which reads like pearls of wisdom from a wise old church mother, serves as icing on the cake: “Everything that glitters ain’t gold/Every open opportunity ain’t yours/When you see the red flags/Stop, turn around and go back/Even when your heart says go/Let your intuition take full control/When you see the red flags/Stop, turn around and go back.”

Nine years is a long time between projects, and whatever made that delay necessary, it becomes clear from beginning to end that for Riddick this was time well spent. She leaps over the near decade absence to take her rightful place among indie soul’s best vocalists. Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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