Vesta - Distant Lover (2007)

Vesta
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We've been inundated over the past couple years with "covers" albums of classic rock and soul gems, often quickly put together with little thought.  There have been exceptions however, including fine, inspired albums by Glenn Jones, Maysa and Natalie Cole.  The difference between the good and the bad has generally been song selection, production and, of course, the talent of the performer.  Fortunately, the latest entry in the remake competition, Vesta's Distant Lover, fares well on all three counts.  Instead of providing another tired reading of old Gamble & Huff songs, she instead opts for rarer tracks such as Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me Off My Feet," Babyface's "Whip Appeal" and an excellent selection that shows off her sassy alto voice, Sly Stone's "If You Want Me To Stay."  The album trips a bit on the treacly "With Yo

We've been inundated over the past couple years with "covers" albums of classic rock and soul gems, often quickly put together with little thought.  There have been exceptions however, including fine, inspired albums by Glenn Jones, Maysa and Natalie Cole.  The difference between the good and the bad has generally been song selection, production and, of course, the talent of the performer.  Fortunately, the latest entry in the remake competition, Vesta's Distant Lover, fares well on all three counts.  Instead of providing another tired reading of old Gamble & Huff songs, she instead opts for rarer tracks such as Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me Off My Feet," Babyface's "Whip Appeal" and an excellent selection that shows off her sassy alto voice, Sly Stone's "If You Want Me To Stay."  The album trips a bit on the treacly "With You I'm Born Again," but all is made right with a fantastic version of Deniece Williams' "Free," with Vesta showing off her surprisingly powerful falsetto.

Producer Chris "Big Dog" Davis, who has already worked on cover albums of varying quality by Phil Perry, Glenn Jones and Miki Howard, here hits all the right notes, creating a backdrop for Vesta's instantly recognizable voice that is low key without being boring or overly mechanized.  And Vesta gives perhaps her most restrained performance yet -- understated but in sync with the material.  The result is a welcome return of one of soul music's great voices.  We'd love to hear Vesta again singing all new material, but her legion of fans should find a lot to like in this well chosen, solidly performed batch of familiar songs.  Recommended.

by Chris Rizik

 
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