Chazz Dixon - Love Notes

Chazz Dixon
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The first thing you notice about Chazz Dixon is that he sounds an awful lot like Smokey Robinson. Dixon not only sounds like Smokey, he matches many of the nuances of Robinson's voice. Dixon 's phrasing is similar. Dixon 's voice trails at the end of notes, and it has that raspy quality that Smokey has used evoke a vulnerability and sensitivity. Dixon has range and like Smokey he can take that soft tenor into the high range, almost on the drop of the dime. Yes, if Dixon wants to a second career as a Smokey Robinson tribute singer, he'd make a nice living.

However, Dixon is not content to be cast as a derivative act. His latest album, Love Notes, is not a record of Robinson's hits with the Miracles or as a solo artist. Instead, Dixon co-wrote every track on Love Notes. In a way, the truer test is to see how Dixon the lyricist compares to Robinson.

The first thing you notice about Chazz Dixon is that he sounds an awful lot like Smokey Robinson. Dixon not only sounds like Smokey, he matches many of the nuances of Robinson's voice. Dixon 's phrasing is similar. Dixon 's voice trails at the end of notes, and it has that raspy quality that Smokey has used evoke a vulnerability and sensitivity. Dixon has range and like Smokey he can take that soft tenor into the high range, almost on the drop of the dime. Yes, if Dixon wants to a second career as a Smokey Robinson tribute singer, he'd make a nice living.

However, Dixon is not content to be cast as a derivative act. His latest album, Love Notes, is not a record of Robinson's hits with the Miracles or as a solo artist. Instead, Dixon co-wrote every track on Love Notes. In a way, the truer test is to see how Dixon the lyricist compares to Robinson.

Smokey Robinson' fame as a vocalist and sex symbol was matched by his prowess as a songwriter. Robinson not only had the ability to pen those memorable hooks that became eternal ear worms for anyone who listened to them ("My Momma Told Me, You Better Shop Around,"), Robinson's ability to write in a conversational style and seamlessly include pop culture references in his songs has many music critics comparing him to lyricist from the Great American Songbook era.

Robinson's work as a vocalist, producer and songwriter marks him as the total package, and any singer who captures Smokey's vocal stylings the way Dixon does will find the "songwriter" part of his resume examined very closely.  The lyrical content on Love Notes is solid, even if it is a notch below Robinson. That can't really count as a criticism. After all, Smokey Robinson was called "the poet laureate of love."

Besides, Love Notes sports its share of solid songwriting. The ballad "Without Love" hits the familiar theme of how achieving all of the world's accomplishments and amassing material possessions means little without having someone to share those things with. "Without Love" sports a catchy Motown hook, while the lyrics evoke vivid images. Other strong tracks include "Mellow Mood" and "Cryin Forever."

A more salient criticism is that the listener still doesn't know who Chazz Dixon is after listening to Love Notes. There is a lot of Smokey in Love Notes, but where exactly is Chazz Dixon? Even though every song on Love Notes is original, the record comes off as somewhat derivative.  Moderately recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
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