Jarrard Anthony - Ready to Live (2012)

Jarrard Anthony
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Jarrard Anthony is a creative guy. Musically, Ready To Live, Anthony’s new record, is a mixture of the kind of arrangements favored by today’s performers of R&B music but with an added quality: What marks Anthony as an artist with a fertile mind is his ability to imagine different ways to tell that age-old story about the relationship between men and women.

One minute Anthony is taking a man and a woman on a millennia long journey to find the right time for them to connect. A few tracks later, the Virginia native likens a house with no distractions as being higher than the highest high. The mid-tempo “Never See Her Again” tells the story of a man who who’s love for a woman is reincarnated three times before they can finally get together. The first time, he is a pauper and she a princess promised to an evil prince in another land. Next, the two are slaves separated when their owner ships the man to another plantation.

Jarrard Anthony is a creative guy. Musically, Ready To Live, Anthony’s new record, is a mixture of the kind of arrangements favored by today’s performers of R&B music but with an added quality: What marks Anthony as an artist with a fertile mind is his ability to imagine different ways to tell that age-old story about the relationship between men and women.

One minute Anthony is taking a man and a woman on a millennia long journey to find the right time for them to connect. A few tracks later, the Virginia native likens a house with no distractions as being higher than the highest high. The mid-tempo “Never See Her Again” tells the story of a man who who’s love for a woman is reincarnated three times before they can finally get together. The first time, he is a pauper and she a princess promised to an evil prince in another land. Next, the two are slaves separated when their owner ships the man to another plantation.

The second track, “Cloud Ten,” sets up a scenario that plenty of working parents can appreciate: nobody’s home and a couple has nothing but time to concentrate on each other. Anthony uses the song to describe a situation where a couple dances together uninhibited. Anybody who has ever been in that situation knows that’s a pretty good feeling, and Anthony’s description of a couple turning their home into a dance floor captures the fleeting moment of freedom that is a part of modern parenthood.

Anthony also displays an ability to create in different sub-genres of R&B. “I Love You” is a mid-tempo duet with Patricia Covington that sports an 1970s vibe. Anthony follows that retro track with “Invisible,” an up-tempo piece of electronica in which Anthony sings about his desire to escape from the grid.

The next track, a hip-hop fused remix of “Damn Sista,” finds Anthony trading praises of the female form with fellow indie soul stars Eric Roberson, Jon Bibbs. I loved the acoustic soul version that got so much love on Soul Tracks a few years ago, and remix will find a new audience among the 20-something set. Anthony flips the script on the original by making the remix a tale about a guy who realizes that the object of his affection has a sister.

Another quality that marks Anthony as an outlier among R&B composers is that he does not confuse eroticism and sensuality with being explicit. The dreamy “Blowing On Your Back” celebrates the erotic power of touches and breathing on the right part of the body.  

Singers do spend an inordinate amount of time in musical discussions about relationships. Truth be told, it can be hard to maintain the listener’s interest, and that might explain why a lot of vocalists resort to providing listeners with a play-by-play of their bedroom exploits. Besides, with all that’s going on in the world, love songs can seen irrelevant. However, a well told story can stand on its own regardless of topic. On Ready To Live, Anthony proves that there a plenty of new ways to tell that age old story for those willing to put in the work.  Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

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