Calvin Richardson - 2:35 a.m. (2004)

Calvin Richardson
CalvinRichardson-235PM.jpg
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The first thing you have to do is get past the picture.  You know, the one where he looks like he's gonna kick your butt.  Because behind it is one talented singer who should have a bright future.  Born and raised in Monroe, North Carolina (and a childhood friend of K-Ci and Jo Jo), Richardson grew up on gospel music and classic R&B and those roots shine forth brightly in his music.    He made his solo debut in 1999 with Country Boy, helped by K-Ci, Chico DeBarge and Monifah.  Unfortunately, it died a relatively quick death, despite showing the beginnings of a very talented artist.  He also provided guest vocals on other albums, most notably Pieces of a Dream's Ahead to the Past.

The first thing you have to do is get past the picture.  You know, the one where he looks like he's gonna kick your butt.  Because behind it is one talented singer who should have a bright future.  Born and raised in Monroe, North Carolina (and a childhood friend of K-Ci and Jo Jo), Richardson grew up on gospel music and classic R&B and those roots shine forth brightly in his music.    He made his solo debut in 1999 with Country Boy, helped by K-Ci, Chico DeBarge and Monifah.  Unfortunately, it died a relatively quick death, despite showing the beginnings of a very talented artist.  He also provided guest vocals on other albums, most notably Pieces of a Dream's Ahead to the Past.

The first time I heard "Keep On Pushin'," the lead single from 2:35 pm, Richardson's 2--3 release, my jaw hit the floor.  What I heard was Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" being sung by Bobby Womack.  I listened harder, and heard a wonderful new voice updating a classic sound, but with a very different lyrical message.  "Pushin" is the story of a man who has broken a trust, but is growing impatient waiting for forgiveness.  It is clearly biographical, and sets the tone for the first half of the album.  In fact, 2:35 is like two albums: One dealing with crumbling relationships and communication breakdowns between lovers; the other expressing the hope that arrives with new love.  Fortunately, the album goes in that order, ending with the uplifting marriage proposal of "Cross My Heart."  While there are a couple of soft spots in the middle of the disc, this is mostly a solid collection of cuts, the cream of which, "Falling Out" (another wonderful Womack-influenced cut), "Not Like This" and "Your Love Is," are some of the best new soul cuts of 2004.  

It's fitting that Richardson's "More Than A Woman" was covered earlier in 2004 by Angie Stone. Richardson, like Stone, is singing real soul music, not just adding soul touches in a bland neo-soul package.  He's the real thing and 2:35 should be his ticket to real attention.

By Chris Rizik

 

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