Charlie Wilson - Forever Charlie (2015)

Charlie Wilson
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Eclectic, inventive and enterprising, with a flair for communicating with the masses. Followers of astrology may recognize those traits as belonging to Aquarius, the Water Bearer, and many a creative game-changer has risen to prominence thanks to those gifts, including Bob Marley, Sam Cooke, D'Angelo, Rakim....and Charlie Wilson. 

Heartland roots and humble beginnings aside, the Tulsa, OK native spent decades cementing his style as a frontman (The Gap Band Era) and as a solo artist (The Era of Uncle Charlie), overcoming obstacles (financial hardship, prostate cancer and addictions to drugs/alcohol) and reestablishing himself as a chart-topping soul survivor. So his latest solo CD, Forever Charlie, is as much about witnessing a rebirth as it is our level of entertainment in experiencing it. 

Eclectic, inventive and enterprising, with a flair for communicating with the masses. Followers of astrology may recognize those traits as belonging to Aquarius, the Water Bearer, and many a creative game-changer has risen to prominence thanks to those gifts, including Bob Marley, Sam Cooke, D'Angelo, Rakim....and Charlie Wilson. 

Heartland roots and humble beginnings aside, the Tulsa, OK native spent decades cementing his style as a frontman (The Gap Band Era) and as a solo artist (The Era of Uncle Charlie), overcoming obstacles (financial hardship, prostate cancer and addictions to drugs/alcohol) and reestablishing himself as a chart-topping soul survivor. So his latest solo CD, Forever Charlie, is as much about witnessing a rebirth as it is our level of entertainment in experiencing it. 

Certainly aware that 'there's no fool like an old fool,' Uncle Charlie doesn't try switching up his proven and popular approach to R&B. Since he first claimed fame with irresistible funk jams, Forever is decidedly more upbeat than 2013's Love, Charlie, beginning and ending with lively grooves. "Just Like Summertime" is built on an "Outstanding"-type foundation, likening his lady to the joys of the season ("On a hot day on the corner, you're my glass of lemonade/like a good potato salad/ that Big Mama used to make"). "Sugar Honey Ice Tea," one of the two songs featuring Snoop Lion, has a glib "Bad Mama Jama" feel and his first flirtation with reggae flava, "Unforgettable," is just as effortless. Neither Mr. Wilson nor Shaggy rein in one another's distinctive deliveries, so it works much better than expected. 

Just because Forever..... is chock-full of dance ditties doesn't mean he short-changed those who love his ballads: "Me & You Forever" is a nice hybrid of slower and step-worthy, emphasizing those signature glides and runs with echoes and metallic percussion, where "My Favorite Part of You" is a head-to-toe tribute that recalls 80s 'Quiet Storm' grooves with ease. "Goodnight Kisses" and "Touched By An Angel" achieve what few of today's R&B lovermen can manage: sweetness and sensuality without going too far on either end. 

Like the Aquarian symbol he was born under, Charlie Wilson's talents transcended what many thought he would ever achieve (his 62nd birthday is on Jan. 29). Instead of trolling lizard lounges to make ends meet or becoming a tragic symbol of ego and excess, music's most esteemed Uncle is a Grammy-nominated, clean and sober born-again stage and soul veteran. With a major tour underway and a biography hitting bookstores this summer (I Am Charlie Wilson), Forever Charlie exemplifies another symbol he can easily identify with....the legendary Phoenix. Highly Recommended. 

By Melody Charles

 

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