guiltypleasures - Lovestories

Share this article
    guiltypleasures
    Guiltypleasures_Lovestories_Album.jpg
    Click on CD cover
    to listen or purchase

    A couple of years ago, I heard British songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson being interviewed by Terry Gross on the NPR show Fresh Air about his CD 1,000 Years of Popular Music. The CD features songs from the 11th Century until the present time.  It also includes a song that is the definition of a "guilty pleasure" - or a thing you shouldn't like, but do anyway - the Britney Spears' song "Oops, I Did It Again." Thompson took Spears out of the equation by performing an acoustic version of the song. Being forced to consider the song on its own merits allowed me to see "Oops" in a different light.  Thompson actually took the song out of guilty pleasure territory for me.

    A couple of years ago, I heard British songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson being interviewed by Terry Gross on the NPR show Fresh Air about his CD 1,000 Years of Popular Music. The CD features songs from the 11th Century until the present time.  It also includes a song that is the definition of a "guilty pleasure" - or a thing you shouldn't like, but do anyway - the Britney Spears' song "Oops, I Did It Again." Thompson took Spears out of the equation by performing an acoustic version of the song. Being forced to consider the song on its own merits allowed me to see "Oops" in a different light.  Thompson actually took the song out of guilty pleasure territory for me.

    What works get defined as "guilty pleasures" have more to do with how the work (or performer) is perceived or how the listener or viewer perceives himself. For example, it could be considered a guilty pleasure for a 16 year-old kid growing up in Gary, Indiana to like Frank Sinatra (believe me, I know).  Slate.com's Jonah Weiner wonders if Chris Brown's domestic violence conviction will turn listening to his new CD into a guilty pleasure.

    I think the ensemble that makes up of the band guiltypleasures was thinking about perceptions when they chose a name, because I don't think Soultrackers will get defensive when they pop Love Stories into the CD player. They'll have nothing to be guilty about, but listening to this CD of 10 high quality songs will definitely be a pleasure. Maybe, based on the group name, listeners will expect to hear risqué bedroom lyrics rendered in the auto tune style of the day that will have heads nodding and feet tapping despite the listener's best efforts to do otherwise. But then you click to the song "Soul," which is a mid-tempo song about being true to yourself, and you realize that the band's name is basically a brilliant piece of counter marketing.  These 10 tracks feature understated but very skilled musicianship that allows listeners to focus on the songwriting and the vocals. Both are first rate.

    The record's name, Love Stories, is straightforward about subject matter that will be addressed. "The One" is a mid-tempo tune that tells the story of how the friends with benefits thing can become a problem when one of the parties goes off script and decides she wants something more. "Turn it Back" and "Anticipation" are two old-school love ballads. "Anticipation," a duet featuring Mycah Chevalier and Sol Edler will make listeners recall some of those Atlantic Star duets from the 1980s. "I Wish" is a song about regret sung from the perspective of the woman. Chevalier's vocals provide a mournful touch to a song that tells the story of a woman who allowed jealousy to destroy a relationship.

    Another strong track is the bluesy and funky "Thankful." That song opens with a twangy guitar that will put the smile on the faces of fans of 1970 soul, and the constant presence of the electric organ will keep that smile there. Rick White's vocals give the song a healthy fill of gospel infused soul.  If Chevalier, who emerges as the star of a group of four strong soloists, displayed her vulnerability on "I Wish," she puts her sensual side on display on the simmering but tasteful "The Urge," a song in which she gives the great Maysa Leak a run for her money. Love Stories ends with "Pride," a song that can be seen as a continuation of "I Wish." This modern soul jam, performed by Jerrica White, is a high quality piece of storytelling that also happens to be very radio friendly.

    Guiltypleasures has put together a very solid work of soul music on Love Stories. I can't see anybody rushing to push the eject button when this disc comes on - or feeling guilty whatsoever about liking it. Recommended.

    By Howard Dukes

     
    Featured Album - ASCENDANT - Illuminate: Yellow
    Choice Cut - Fred Reed - "Tug Of War"