MINI REVIEWS - James Ingram, Mandisa, Heather Headley and more... (2009)

MINI REVIEWS

cornfed picL. Michael Gipson's Mini Reviews 
March 2009 

This is SoulTracks Music Editor L. Michael's Gipson's take on several new CD releases which didn't get the full treatment by us but which are nonetheless of interest to SoulTrackers. You can click on the CD covers to check them out. Let us know how you like this new feature!

 

Bennson - Let The Love

cornfed picL. Michael Gipson's Mini Reviews 
March 2009 

This is SoulTracks Music Editor L. Michael's Gipson's take on several new CD releases which didn't get the full treatment by us but which are nonetheless of interest to SoulTrackers. You can click on the CD covers to check them out. Let us know how you like this new feature!

 

Bennson - Let The Love

Party like it's 1975, 85, or 95! Australia's Bennson recaptures a timeless discotheque feel that never goes out of style. Fingers pop, brass blare and bumpin' percussions keep it all the way live on subtle dance jams echoing Larry Levan, Ten City and Frankie Knuckles. When Let The Love is not sweating out the dance floor, its giving up the kind of spacey afro-jazz and sinewy vocals that lets the love flow; you get my drift. Yeah, get this now! Notable songs: "Step To The Plate," "Whatever It Is (Extended)" and "The Greatest."  Vocals: 3 stars   Lyrics: 2.5 stars   Music: 4 stars   Production: 4 stars
SoulTracks Call: Highly Recommended

Nat King Cole - Re-Generations

Natalie's dad hasn't sounded this hip in generations. The idol crooner has been posthumously paired with some of the best producers of now, including Cee-lo, Amp Fiddler, Salaam Remi, and the finally hip, TV on the Radio. The duet talent here ain't half bad either: Nas, Bebel Gilberto, Stephen and Damien Marley, Will I. Am and, of course, Natalie Cole keep it intergenerational. A few hit and miss genre marriages have the Nina Simone and Verve Remix series besting this collection for me, but Nat still has plenty of lush life to share. Notable songs: "Day In and Day Out," "Brazilian Love Song," "More, More of Your Amour," "Lush Life," and "Straighten Up and Fly Right" Vocals: 4 stars   Lyrics: 4 stars   Music: 3 stars   Production: 3.5 stars. SoulTracks Call: Highly Recommended

Mandisa - Freedom

Another American Idol, another album, but this time it's a gospel jamboree from big-voiced Mandisa. Freedom marks the singer's third inspirational project in just two years, and the growth shows. Better songs, better singing, and a more fiery alto delivery from a girl who hadn't really lived up to her promise before now. It's not a perfect album, and spirit-filled moments here are spare, but for those loving pop-styled gospel, it works. Freedom expresses this singer fighting spirit, a moxie which has earned her a certain respect, allegiance, and apparently a fruitful career. Longevity proves the blessing. Notable songs: "My Deliverer," "Freedom Song," "Dance, Dance, Dance," "Not Guilty" Vocals: 3.5 stars   Lyrics: 2.5 stars   Music: 3 stars   Production: 3 stars. SoulTracks Call: Recommended

James Ingram - The Stand (In The Light)

Why fuss with your classics? With "Yah-Mo Be There," Ingram dares to on this mixed bag of soul covers, inspirational classics, and what would be utterly forgettable originals if not for Ingram's earnest vocals. Not to worry his signature cut and trademark baritone sound exactly the same as they did in ‘82, which begs the question... In any case, Ingram shines best on piano ballads like "Everything Must Change," though the awfully tepid Casio productions throughout threatens to darken even Ingram's most faithful stances. Notable songs: "Everything Must Change," "Mercy," and "Blessed Assurance" Vocals: 4 stars   Lyrics: 2 stars   Music: 2 stars   Production: 1 star. SoulTracks Call: Mildly Recommended

The Dream - Love Vs Money

Why does this guy have a record deal? Oh, yeah, because he wrote "Umbrella" one of the best radio hits of 2007, and followed it up a gold album driven by the hits "Shawty Is A 10" and "I Luv Your Girl." Don't strain yourself listening for that level of songwriting on these expletive-filled, Lil Jon waving, R. Kelly wanna-be cuts-though "Sweat It Out" grows on you. This synth pop album is redeemed by a cotton candy duet with Mariah, "My Love" and trade-offs with #1 industry pitch-hitter, Kanye West, on "Walking On The Moon." Yet, something tells me if The Dream walked away from this rained-out game after pitching such a low-ball CD, no one would offer him their ella, ella, eh, eh. Notable songs: "My Love," "Walk On The Moon," "Fancy," and "Love Vs Money" Vocals: 2 stars   Lyrics: 1.5 stars   Music: 2.5 stars   Production: 3 stars
SoulTrack Call: Just Barely Recommended

Marc Evans - DJ Spen Presents Defected: The Way You Love Me

Baritones like Marc Evans are rare, warm and raspy with a sincerity that grabs your heart and never let's go. If only he did more ballads like "Crescent Moon," which has shades of the title track from Christopher Williams' sadly underappreciated Not A Perfect Man. However, this Baltimore based artist isn't into singing the blues, at least not without a dance beat. Classic house joints like "If You Want My Love (Put Something Down On It)" would be right at home on SalSoul Records thanks to the supreme production talents of the internationally renown DJ Spen and The MuthaFunkaz. If old school house from yesterday is your bag, dip into a store for this Defected Records release today. Notable songs: "Crescent Moon," "Put Something Down On It," and "This Thing Called Love"  Vocals: 3 stars   Lyrics: 2.5 stars   Music: 3 stars   Production: 3.5 stars. SoulTracks Call: Highly Recommended

Heather Headley - Audience of One

Broadway diva does J.C like it's...Broadway. These staid tunes for this audience of one sounds whistle clean and pristine to a fault. If CeCe Winan's The Throne Room is your cup of team, Headley's prim and proper approach to gospel will make your cup runneth over. Rousing vocal moments come and go, but fail to take sustained spiritual flights, because Headley so rarely does. How she manages to underplay Fred Hammond's iconic "Running Back To You" is still a mystery. An awe-inspiring version of the Commodores' "Jesus Is Love" featuring Smokie Norful and the old time religion of "I Know The Lord Will Make A Way" keep this from being a strictly Catholic affair, I suspect preventing sales for this handsome effort from also being a buyer of one. Notable songs: "Jesus is Love," "I Know The Lord Will Make A Way," and "Simply Redeemed" Vocals: 3.5 stars   Lyrics: 3 stars   Music: 3 stars   Production: 3.5 stars. SoulTracks Call: Recommended

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Choice Cut - Maysa - "Lovin' You Is Easy"

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