Gil Small - Welcome 2 Groovecity (2016)

Gil Small
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I admit, hearing a gospel cut like “All About Him” on the same album as an ultra-romantic slow jam such as “More Play,” where vocalist Laurone McClendon deploys his sensual baritone to woo his lady, can be a bit jarring. And I know that the traditional church folk won’t be feeling sacred and sensual sharing this space at all. Yet, there is a method to Gil V. Small, Jr.’s madness.

Small is a New York based label executive and producer, and “label executive and producer” are the key words in that description. Those words explain why Welcome 2 Groovecity, Vol. 1 contains gospel tracks such as “Free,” “All About Him:” and “My Eyes on You,” the up-tempo dance track that might remind some of Clark Sisters of the mid 80s, while also highlighting bedroom ballads such as the aforementioned “More Play,” and “Gotta Have You,” breezy mid-tempo love songs like “Cloud 85,” and a neo-soul cover of the Earth, Wind & Fire tune “Can’t Let Go.”

I admit, hearing a gospel cut like “All About Him” on the same album as an ultra-romantic slow jam such as “More Play,” where vocalist Laurone McClendon deploys his sensual baritone to woo his lady, can be a bit jarring. And I know that the traditional church folk won’t be feeling sacred and sensual sharing this space at all. Yet, there is a method to Gil V. Small, Jr.’s madness.

Small is a New York based label executive and producer, and “label executive and producer” are the key words in that description. Those words explain why Welcome 2 Groovecity, Vol. 1 contains gospel tracks such as “Free,” “All About Him:” and “My Eyes on You,” the up-tempo dance track that might remind some of Clark Sisters of the mid 80s, while also highlighting bedroom ballads such as the aforementioned “More Play,” and “Gotta Have You,” breezy mid-tempo love songs like “Cloud 85,” and a neo-soul cover of the Earth, Wind & Fire tune “Can’t Let Go.”

Welcome 2 Groovecity is a compilation record that showcases the label’s recurring theme that runs through its diverse stable of artists and the music that they make: Groovecity’s brand of gospel and R&B music makes use of contemporary production techniques featured on the tunes that music fans hear on R&B and adult urban contemporary radio.

On “Free,” Robin Small breaks into a conversational vocal that finds her talking about the freedom that Christ provides. The track is driven by a bouncy and percussive bass line. Tony McClendon adds his muscular baritone to “That’s The Way,” a tune that finds him explaining why God loves humanity, presented from the standpoint of The Almighty. On the secular side, Serina G’s sweet and youthful sounding vocals mesh with the breezy atmospheric arrangement on “Cloud 85.” The up-tempo steppers cut “First Date” is a stream of consciousness number in with vocalist Charlene telling a story of all the things that go through her mind as she prepares to make that first big impression.

Was Gil V. Small aiming Welcome 2 Groovecity at music fans or musicians? The likely answer is both. The album serves as a conduit to introduce fans to new artists, while talented and unattached artists looking for a musical home know they can get in where they fit whether they sing praises to God or appeal to our more earth based desired. It is a solid collection that displays the depth of talent that surrounds Small’s world. Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
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