Jeff Hendrick - Color Blind

Jeff Hendrick
Jeff_Hendrick_Color_Blind.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

The moment I heard Jeff Hendrick sing on Color Blind, his latest album, I instantly thought of Michael Franks. It would be incorrect to say that Hendrick is trying to sound exactly like Franks. Hendrick sings R&B while Franks' sound has more of a jazzy vibe. Yet, there are similarities in their phrasing, vocal range and the attitude that Franks and Hendrick bring to a song. Both men have a laid back, intimate delivery that almost sounds like they are singing while sitting across from a cocktail table.

The moment I heard Jeff Hendrick sing on Color Blind, his latest album, I instantly thought of Michael Franks. It would be incorrect to say that Hendrick is trying to sound exactly like Franks. Hendrick sings R&B while Franks' sound has more of a jazzy vibe. Yet, there are similarities in their phrasing, vocal range and the attitude that Franks and Hendrick bring to a song. Both men have a laid back, intimate delivery that almost sounds like they are singing while sitting across from a cocktail table.

Hendrick is also a singer who located a sound that compliments his voice.  That sound is rooted in R&B, funk and jazz. Hendrick is aware of this, and that fact becomes obvious on Color Blind's opening track, "Back To The Days." The song pays homage to the days when bands played real instruments and when lyrics encouraged people to feel good and dance. "Back To The Days" can be viewed as Hendrick's artistic statement. He is not going to give you autotune, nor is he going to make songs that objectify women. He may not break any new ground musically, but he's going to give grown folks what they have been pining for.

A lot of artists make that statement, but Hendrick is pretty effective in backing it up on Color Blind's ensuing tracks. The album sports several standout tracks. One example is the title track. "Color Blind" is a jazzy ballad that could also serve as Hendrick's personal manifesto. On "Color Blind," the blue-eyed crooner sings about his commitment to a woman of a different race. It might appear that someone with Hendrick's laid-back delivery might have a hard time making such a song convincing. But his soft tenor whisper gives a conversational intimacy to the song. Of course, the song's message is one that should be acceptable at a time when the president is the son of a white woman and a black man from Africa. However, it's likely that "Color Blind's" message will be easier to accept coming from a white man singing about a black woman than it would if a black man sang the song. Still, "Color Blind" is one of several noteworthy songs on the album.

Hendrick varies the tempo and gives Color Blind a little Caribbean vibe on the song "Island Girl," while he creates a stepper's anthem and wedding dance song on "First Dance." "Be Yours" is a funky head nodder with a catchy hook.

One thing that can definitely be said for Color Blind is that the material gets better from beginning to end. I usually listen to these albums straight through multiple times before I attempt to write a review. Toward the end, I found myself really focusing on tracks three to 11, which are the heart of this strong album. For those scoring at home, that's a pretty good batting average, and Color Blind is a welcome new disc for an old school soul. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
Featured Album - Will Downing - "Romantique, Part 1"
Featured Album - The Soul Rebels - "Poetry In Motion"
Album of the Month - Plunky & Oneness - "Afroclectic"
Choice Cut - Chris Jasper - "For The Love of You"

Leave a comment!