Johnny Britt - Feels So Good (2012)

Johnny Britt
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Judging from the title of his most recent release as one half of the duo Impromp2, Johnny Britt is the kind of artist who likes to “put it out there” and leave it up to the listener to assign the label. The title of trumpeter Britt and Sean “Sean E Mac” Thomas’s 2009 album, It Is What It Is, said it all. The only label that duo really cared about was those that referred to quality. It Is What It Is was a high quality release, and the same can be said for Britt’s new solo project, Feels So Good.

Judging from the title of his most recent release as one half of the duo Impromp2, Johnny Britt is the kind of artist who likes to “put it out there” and leave it up to the listener to assign the label. The title of trumpeter Britt and Sean “Sean E Mac” Thomas’s 2009 album, It Is What It Is, said it all. The only label that duo really cared about was those that referred to quality. It Is What It Is was a high quality release, and the same can be said for Britt’s new solo project, Feels So Good.

Britt showcases his multi-faceted skills on Feels So Good. He leaves his imprint as a songwriter, trumpeter, arranger and lead and background vocalist. Britt’s vocals show the influence of Marvin Gaye, and while Gaye made his musical fortune by singing love songs like “Distant Lover” and socially relevant tunes such as “What’s Going On,” he also explored gospel on cuts such as “Wholly Holy,” a song that Gaye imbued with a jazz improvisational vocal style.

Like his mentor, Britt also shows that he can move between R&B, jazz and gospel on Feels So Good. In some cases, the transition takes place within the space of a single track. That is the case on “Is She” and “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” The latter is a mid-tempo song in which Britt employs his soft tenor to remind listeners of the importance of seeking spiritual guidance when looking for a mate. Britt asks a series of questions to determine if a woman is THE woman. He asks, “is she the one,” but realizes that he won’t know unless ‘You’ tell me. The spiritual message is so subtle that the listener might not realize that the ‘You’ in whom Britt refers is God. Britt attaches his Harmon mute to the front of his trumpet on the spiritual ballad “Don’t’ Leave Me This Way,” which is a cry for God to help him across the finish line as he tries to transform his life. Gaye’s influence can also be heard on up-tempo secular tracks such as “Why,” a song that surrounds a “Trouble Man” styled melody around a she-done-me-wrong story.

While Marvin Gaye is an influence, Britt shows he is his own artist as he moves through several styles with aplomb on the rest Feels So Good. The ballad “Think About You” finds Britt taking a conversational style as he dives into a relationship number about two people struggling to keep their love alive. Britt showcases the ability to sing with emotion and stretch his soft tenor to the upper ranges with ease. This number and the funky radio number “I Know She Loves Me” serve as perhaps the album’s best examples of Britt’s skill as a jack-of-all-trades, master of many arranger and producer. Britt not only handles the vocals on the “Think About You,” but he also plays the piano, the keyboard and synthesizer. The rock tinged “I Know She Loves Me” is marked by its simple yet catchy lyrics, as well as the guitar work by none other than Ray Parker, Jr.

Britt’s effort as a soloist on Feels So Good proves to be every bit as successful as his work with Impromp2.  As a singer, musician, composer, lyricist and arranger, he is an artist with a classic soul sensibility but a modern musical voice that should appeal to adult soul fans of all stripes. Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

 
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