Evelyn "Champagne" King - Open Book (2008)

Evelyn "Champagne" King
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One of the more underrated vocalists of the late 70s and early 80s, Evelyn "Champagne" King quietly put together a solid collection of hits, including definitive cuts of the disco movement ("Shame") and early 80s electronic funk ("Love Come Down," "I'm In Love").  So her absence from the studio for a decade has truly been a shame, a problem she resolves with the release of Open Book in association with emerging soul label RNB Entertainment (the group behind last year's Billy Griffin release).

One of the more underrated vocalists of the late 70s and early 80s, Evelyn "Champagne" King quietly put together a solid collection of hits, including definitive cuts of the disco movement ("Shame") and early 80s electronic funk ("Love Come Down," "I'm In Love").  So her absence from the studio for a decade has truly been a shame, a problem she resolves with the release of Open Book in association with emerging soul label RNB Entertainment (the group behind last year's Billy Griffin release).

For Open Book King has teamed with ubiquitous producer Preston Glass, who seems to have a role in nearly every soul "comeback" album these days, and together they deliver the goods.  Though she's no longer the teenage singing prodigy,  King's deep alto voice is still effective, and it works well on the disc's spotlight dance numbers.  The best of them are the leadoff single, "Skillz," the infectious "The Dance" (both of which are included in original and remix forms) and the irresistible 80s-style dance track "Not That Kinda Party," each of which deserves significant club play.  Equally strong are the title cut, a simple but melodic ballad that could be a slow jam hit, and the mid-tempo "Standing On the Rock of Love."  The disc's appeal to adult audiences may be lessened somewhat by a slight overuse of synthesizers and a plethora of overly simplistic lyrics ("Whole Lotta Yum Yum," "(You Deserve) An Academy Award," "True to My Boo"), but in fairness, Open Book isn't a masters thesis; in its heart it is a let-it-loose dance album, and in that context it is an enjoyable success and is a welcome return vehicle for a singer who was simply gone too long.

by Chris Rizik

 
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