Freddie Jackson - For You (2010)

Freddie Jackson
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For those who consider themselves aficionados of True School R&B, the name ‘Freddie Jackson' recalls more than a laughable line from the movie Friday. In fact, depending on who you ask, the mention of those four syllables can illicit romanticized rose-colored, memories of a past-time or present love, thanks to nearly-immortal soul classics like "Tasty Love," "You Are My Lady" and a Quiet Storm unto itself, "Rock Me Tonight."

For those who consider themselves aficionados of True School R&B, the name ‘Freddie Jackson' recalls more than a laughable line from the movie Friday. In fact, depending on who you ask, the mention of those four syllables can illicit romanticized rose-colored, memories of a past-time or present love, thanks to nearly-immortal soul classics like "Tasty Love," "You Are My Lady" and a Quiet Storm unto itself, "Rock Me Tonight."

Like Luther Vandross and Alexander O'Neal, Mr. Jackson seemed to dominate the airwaves during the 1980s, when four back-to back number one CDs turned a Harlem-born word -processor and sessions singer into a million-selling superstar. Even when the trends changed and urban music began to emphasize the sexualized over the sophisticated, Mr. Jackson was able to sustain himself with touring and intermittent recording; and today, nearly five years after his last CD, Transitions, he returns to the scene with an engaging selection of songs that positions the 25-year-vet for a well-earned comeback.

For You succeeds in showcasing what made Freddie famous to begin with, thanks to its assortment of boudoir-ready ballads and sweet, yet sensual vocalizing. For the first time, Mr. Jackson takes credit as co-executive producer with his original golden-era collaborator, Barry Eastmond (also famous for his work with Anita Baker). It's hard not to recall "Rock Me Tonight" when one hears the longing conveyed in "After All This Time," or the unabashed affection bubbling through "A Dozen Roses," which picks up where "You Are My Lady" left off and continues its serenade to his one true love: "A dozen roses, can't express my love, candy, cards and letters, just don't say enough/I can bring you diamonds, that shine like stars at night, but nothing comes to the joy, you've brought into my life."

Relationships, due to the passage of time, have a natural ebb and flow, and For You follows each of these nuances as well.  From the intoxicating first encounter that makes parting such sweet sorrow ("I Don't Wanna Go," "A Little Taste"), to the cementing of the union ("For You I Will,") to the murky shades in-between -- spelled out in the ‘I-can-love-you-better' jam, "Incognito," and the ‘sick-of-your-messy-friends' track, "Rumors," where Freddie tires of the endless tug-of-war between what actually is and what her girlfriends think it should be: "they say I got a history, of loving and leaving them fast/they tell you don't trust in me, cuz' there's no way it's gonna last."

At 53, Mr. Jackson's voice is still a warm and tender one, its elasticity on full display in the nimble duet with Sara Devine, "Definition of Love," and in the percolating "Slow Dance," where he yearns to put aside the cares of the day by remembering what brought them together in the first place, memories and music: "Here we are, sitting in the kitchen, talking about the bills, the taxes and the tuitions/We've been working hard, things are finally better, so let's put it on ‘pause,' and pull out some old records."

Recalling a time when melodies mattered and intimacy came before intercourse, Mr. Jackson's latest is a worthy collection of grown-folks' soul that will resonate with his back-in-the-day followers and might even pick up some new ones (a task that would've been a lot easier if "Say Yeah" weren't the only up tempo track).  If classically-created soul with a dash of modern flavoring is your style, then call him 'Ready Freddie' and consider his thirteenth studio set to be....well, just For You. Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 
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