â€˜RSVP' is the debut album from the multi faceted Lawrence Welton. Not content with delivering consistently soulful vocals he also writes and produces all twelve tracks, and, with the exception of a little help from his Chicago friends, plays all the instruments too. Best known previously as a songwriter and for his skills on drums, his career has taken him from his home town of Chicago through Los Angeles CA, Dallas TX and back again where he is now combining all his talents under the banner of his very own Ensight Records. â€˜RSVP' finds Welton blending R & B with a touch of smooth jazz and a smattering of Hip-Hop. The overall effect is both soulful and consistently pleasing.
Truth to tell the core of the album is dominated by ballads from the school of romantic quiet storm but Welton's svelte production ensures that things never get bland or repetitive. Best summed up as romantic but edgy, â€˜Lets Start All Over' is enticingly urban while â€˜Keep On' has a handsome loping beat that re-enforces its comforting yet hypnotic quality. With â€˜I'm So Glad' Welton goes down the route of the big romantic ballad and in the same vein is â€˜Autumn Love'. Joined on vocals by sophisticated Chicago native Celeste Harrell (pictured here) it's a tune that really flows and, despite the seasonal mismatch of the title, could well be tweaked to be an outstanding Christmas tune. Christmas Love? You first heard it here.
In fact excellent use of female vocals is a feature of much of the album. On the â€˜off the scale' soulful â€˜Someday' Welton turns to Marquecia Jordan for backing and the result is just right while equally good is â€˜Good Loving'. An intro that is completely in the groove and subtle sax from Rodney Brown make this mid tempo foot-tapper something special. Welton uses â€˜Don't Look Back' as a delightful 70 second introduction to the title track which, quite simply, is urban romanticizing of the finest order and when he reaches out for a dance groove he finds it perfectly with â€˜Get At It'. With a vibe that keeps on building and a steppin' kind of a thing going on it would have been a contender for the albums best tune but gets pulled back near its end by the use of an unnecessary rap. Much more appropriate is the use of a rap from Carikature on the exquisitely urban â€˜Everythangz Alright'. Featuring excellent vocals from Esha it's yet another of the albums memorable moments. That said Smooth Jazz Therapy top track is â€˜Keep In Touch'. The smoothest piece of smooth R & B you will hear all year it has real potential to cross over to the rapidly growing urban jazz market.
By Denis Poole, http://www.smoothjazztherapy.com/