George Huff - Miracles (2005)

George Huff
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Like most viewers, I took an instant liking to George Huff during season three of American Idol.  However, I wasn't confident that he had the voice to sustain a major singing career.  He proved me wrong with his Christmas EP, as he showed both a distinctive voice and improved interpretive style.  Well, his performance on Miracles is even better, and he proves he has crossed the line to become a real song interpreter, with a nicely developed, smoky voice that hints of a younger BeBe Winans. 

Like most viewers, I took an instant liking to George Huff during season three of American Idol.  However, I wasn't confident that he had the voice to sustain a major singing career.  He proved me wrong with his Christmas EP, as he showed both a distinctive voice and improved interpretive style.  Well, his performance on Miracles is even better, and he proves he has crossed the line to become a real song interpreter, with a nicely developed, smoky voice that hints of a younger BeBe Winans. 

For Miracles, Huff has been teamed with a large posse of producers, with an especially healthy representation from the adult contemporary and smooth jazz worlds, including Reed Vertelney (Luther Vandross, LaToya London), Greg Bieck (Ricky Martin, Hall and Oates), David Benson (Barry Manilow) and Bruce Roberts.  But the best collaborations are with modern R&B producer Fred Jerkins (J. Lo, Mary J. Blige) and veteran Gospel man Dan Muckala (Aaron Neville, Anointed). 

The disc starts off extremely strongly, with the hot Dark Child production "Real Love" followed by two Huff/Muckala compositions, the midtempo "Fortunes" and the acoustic "See What God Can Do."  He simply sounds great on these cuts and also demonstrates for the first time his songwriting skills.

The album hits a snag with some by-the-numbers MOR material (especially the treacly title cut), but Huff's strong vocal work allows him to get through them okay.  Fortunately, there are enough other solid -- if not particularly adventurous -- songs (the best of which is the first single, "Brighter Day," largely an updating of the Clark Sisters' "You Brought the Sunshine") to make Miracles an overall success.

George Huff is still developing as both a singer and a songwriter, and Miracles is an extremely encouraging sign in both areas.  He has come a long way since his introduction to the world on Idol and has, for my money, moved to the head of the AI class.  Recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 
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