Cali-born singer Darnell Kendricks came by his musical talent naturally and at an early age. His single mother was a talented vocalist and he began showing an interest in singing literally when he was in infant. As he grew up he didn't plan on a career in music, but it was a passion that wouldn't die.
As a young adult he moved to Detroit, the home town of his musical idol Twinkie Clark (of the Clark Sisters), and began pursuing his music in earnest. While providing some background vocal work for producer Daniel Young, Kendricks played for Young a song he wrote that he thought had potential. Young loved it and that night they laid down "Strawberry Lemonade," the centerpiece of Kendricks' debut album.
With his title cut in tow, Kendricks then began working on the rest of his album, teaming with talented producer Darrin Simpson and resulting in the late 2005 album, Strawberry Lemonade. The disc immediately caught on in Detroit and has begun to make quite a stir in the UK.
Sounding vocally like a combination of Brian McKnight and fellow Detroiter Mike Winans, Kendricks has put together an auspicious debut album filled with attractive, melodic mid-tempo cuts that should appeal to an adult soul audience. Tunes like "A Soft Answer" and "Jones In My Bones" are absolutely infectious, as is the ballad "Because of You." And while Strawberry Lemonade is a secular soul album, there's a lot of church lurking underneath, especially coming through on the very nice duet, "Faithful," with Andrea Curtis. The compositions and performances are strong throughout the disc, but the clear highlight is the title cut, a jazzy, piano laden track that is as enjoyable a Summer song as you may hear this year. It caps a fine first effort by this talented young artist, and should portent more good things to come. Recommended.
By Chris Rizik