Jay King – Helen’s Son
Jay King is an artist who recognizes that he has an artistic and moral obligation to those who came before him, regardless of whether they remain in the land of the living. So Helen’s Son, the latest record from one of the driving forces behind The Timex Social Club and Club Nouveau, is in many ways a consciously reverential record. The Helen in the title is King’s mother, Helen Bridges, who died on Jan. 27, 2007, which happened to be King’s birthday.
And while nine of the 10 tracks on Helen’s Son find King mining the love and relationship vein that was so often the mother lode for The Timex Social Club and Club Nouveau in the late 1980s, the album’s spiritual direction in many respects is set by the album’s final tune and title track – a pensive piano and acoustic guitar ballad where King’s soft tenor renders an emotional tribute to his mother. King speaks the words his mother told him on her death bed when he sings “Bring pride to me.”
King does that creating a project that Helen Bridges could have listened to and enjoyed, and may have prompted her to cut the rug. Helen’s Son is a proudly urban adult contemporary from the Motown inspired first track, “Good Kind of Lovin’,” with its James Jamerson styled bass line, to the 1980s synthesized and saxophone funk of “The One.”
On the ballads “Now We’re Making Love” and “Let Me Relax Your Mind,” King displays a talent for being sensual while leaving something to the imagination, in a way that would have made his mother proud. The former is an absolute gem of a song that finds King describing a relationship in which two people are so connected that they can move each other even when they are not in the same location. “I’m lying next to you/And ain’t even in your bed/I’m just caressing you/With words that I haven’t even said.” On the atmospheric “Let Me Relax Your Mind,” the title describes that King’s intent is to please. The ballad sports an open arrangement that provides space for jazz infused nuances from sax and guitar.
It might be a stretch to call Helen’s Son a tribute record. After all, only one of the 10 tracks is dedicated to the beloved matriarch King’s family. Perhaps the real tribute to King’s late mother are the nine high quality tracks that give a voice to the timeless love that a man can have for his woman. What mother wouldn’t be proud of that statement? Recommended.
By Howard Dukes