Phil Perry - Classic Love Songs (2006)

Phil Perry
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Five years between Phil Perry CDs is way too long for my taste, so I was excited to learn that Phil had signed with Shanachie Records (a label that is really "bringing it" these days with new discs by Maysa, Ann Nesby, Hil St. Soul and others) and was releasing Classic Love Songs, his tribute to 70s and 80s soul ballads.

Five years between Phil Perry CDs is way too long for my taste, so I was excited to learn that Phil had signed with Shanachie Records (a label that is really "bringing it" these days with new discs by Maysa, Ann Nesby, Hil St. Soul and others) and was releasing Classic Love Songs, his tribute to 70s and 80s soul ballads.

As you would expect, Perry's falsetto is as clear and pitch perfect as can be on the disc, as he covers well known hits by the Chi-Lites, the Stylistics, Marvin Gaye and others.  Working with producer/multi-instrumentalist Chris "Big Dog" Davis, Perry has released an album of faithful renditions of these cuts that is clearly aimed at late night listeners.  Davis's arrangements overall are rather tame, leaving it to Perry to bring life through his soaring falsetto, and he generally does, especially on Eddie Holman's "Hey There Lonely Girl" and the Tempts' "Just My Imagination."  But the disc gets much better when it moves to jazzier arrangements, and the more creative surroundings make Perry's version of DeBarge's "All This Love" an absolute gem - and a can't miss cut for smooth jazz radio.  Even more unusual is the flute and bass-led jazz reading of Lionel Richie's "Hello," which Perry takes in a direction far afield from the original and which may be the album's finest moment.

While the tone of the album is intentionally mellow, it would have been nice to hear Perry break out on a cut or two, as he did on prior covers such as "Love Don't Love Nobody" and "Call Me."  But with late night listening in mind, Classic Love Songs is a success and a welcome return of a truly great vocalist.

CR

 

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