Preston Glass - Soul In The Rear View Mirror

Preston Glass
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Preston Glass has been a part of my music listening experience long before his latest  album, Soul In The Rear View Mirror, came across my desk. By now, most SoulTrackers know Glass’s associations with Natalie Cole, Earth, Wind & Fire, Aretha Franklin, Kenny G and many others.

Glass is way too young to rest on his musical laurels, despite penning some of the top selling pop, R&B and contemporary jazz records on the 1980s and 90s. Glass went into the studio as a solo artist in the middle of the last decade, where he produced two highly regarded if unfortunately overlooked records, Music as Medicine and Elevator Speech. Glass now returns with his latest project, Soul In The Rear View Mirror.

Preston Glass has been a part of my music listening experience long before his latest  album, Soul In The Rear View Mirror, came across my desk. By now, most SoulTrackers know Glass’s associations with Natalie Cole, Earth, Wind & Fire, Aretha Franklin, Kenny G and many others.

Glass is way too young to rest on his musical laurels, despite penning some of the top selling pop, R&B and contemporary jazz records on the 1980s and 90s. Glass went into the studio as a solo artist in the middle of the last decade, where he produced two highly regarded if unfortunately overlooked records, Music as Medicine and Elevator Speech. Glass now returns with his latest project, Soul In The Rear View Mirror.

The record’s title provides insights into the musical treats that Glass has to offer. Glass’s velvety smooth tenor and his songwriting style hearken back to the soul of the 1970s, which is the era before Glass became a successful songwriter. I listen to tracks such as “Sittin’ In The Puddin’” or “Who You Choose” and figure that Glass spent his days in the late 1960s and 1970s listening to groups such as The Chi Lites, The Sylistics, The Spinners and Blue Magic, to name a few.

Glass burnishes his rep as a storyteller on “Sittin’ In The Puddin.’” The track finds Glass rubbing salt into the wounds of a guy who took a lady’s love for granted and drove her into the vocalist’s arms. The vocal arrangements sport tight harmonies reminiscent of those employed by 60s and 70s era soul groups. The lyricism on this opening track sets the stage for the quality of songwriting heard throughout Soul In The Rear View Mirror. Glass’ songwriting combines all of the virtues heard in soul music from that era – mature, witty, visual and conversational.

“Who You Choose” has the feel of something that results from a combination of the Chi Lites and The Undisputed Truth. The percussion and the funky base line set up the serious advice that Glass dispenses on this track. Thematically, Glass channels the spirit of The Undisputed Truth’s 1971 classic cautionary tale about false friendship – “Smiling Faces.”

Meanwhile, the bitter “Hurry Up and Break My Heart” is another song where Glass uses a mid-tempo arrangement augmented by a deeply funky bass line as a set up for a story about a man who realizes that the love he has will be unrequited. However, he can’t pull the trigger on a break up, so he pleads for the lady to put him out of his misery. “Loving you is really torture/Go ahead and say goodbye already/Hurry up and just break my heart/No, I’m really not sadistic/I’m just trying to be realistic/Why don’t cha/Hurry up and just break my heart.”

The mournful ballad “Easy In, Not So Easy Out” is the perfect cut to follow “Hurry Up and Break My Heart.” Glass reminds listeners why folks stick with a relationship when it becomes obvious that it’s well past the time to say goodbye. “So hard to fall out of love/And say goodbye to all the dreams you shared,” Glass sings.

Lyricism has always been the strongest component throughout Glass’s stellar career. However, he continue to evolve and grow vocally. The combination of songwriting and production skills with his emerging vocal skills makes Soul In The Rear View Mirror a quality and entertaining package, and a welcome return of a familiar friend still at his peak. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

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