Bring Back the Love is the title of Reggie Calloway's long-awaited new album as well as the name of the record's first track. The song "Bring Back the Love" tells the story of a man's desire to reignite the passion in a relationship in which both partners are taking each other for granted. But by giving the album the same name, Calloway could be making a statement about the industry that he has been a part of for the better part of three decades. It's an argument that many Soultrackers have heard before. I'd wager that a lot of music fans who peruse Soultracks and other soul music sites have made the argument themselves.
The argument goes something like this: too much of today's music lacks passion and soul, too many contemporary singers equate love with sex and worship the material trappings of power above all else. Last, but not least, many music fans find the overreliance on technology renders the music robotic and soulless. There's no love in a lot of the stuff played on the radio, a lot of people say (I'd be one of those people, by the way).
In its best moments, Calloway's Bring Back the Love delivers on the promise implied by the record's title. However, many of the songs are just middle of the road tunes that fail to inspire, and that's surprising considering Reggie Calloway's history both with 1980's R&B and funk band Midnight Star and as a songwriter for artists as diverse as Gladys Knight ("Love Overboard"), Levert ("Casanova") and N'Sync.
Calloway sports a pleasant tenor that falls easy on the ears. He has nice range, and has no trouble reaching the vocal heights in songs that deal with emotional topics such as loneliness and the determination to provide for his family. Those are the topics on two of the album's best cuts, "Man's Gotta Do" and "Hotel Lonely Room." The latter is a standout on Bring Back the Love. "Hotel Lonely Room" is a funky piece of storytelling about a traveling businessman who has grown weary of the road and longs for his lover's companionship. Colloway paints a picture of life on the road that will be familiar to anyone who works out of a suitcase. The imagery of endless neon lights and the futile attempts to use all night TV as a distraction are songwriting at its best. The song's chorus is a classic use of metaphor: "If you look you will find me at hotel lonely room/Right next to all alone cafe/On the south side of need somebody soon."
However, "Hotel Lonely Room" only serves to highlight Bring Back the Love's main shortcoming, the songwriting. Only a few of the songs are able to approach that level of lyrical craftmanship, specifically, the title track, "So In Love," "Man's Gotta Do," and "You Are My Music." Bring Back the Love won't offend. Unfortunately, it won't inspire either. Mildly recommended.