Jean Baylor - Testimony: My Life Story (2007)

Jean Baylor
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Do you know who Jean Baylor is? Does the name Zhane ring a bell? Yes that stylishly suave female dynamic duo that sprinkled the 90's Billboard Charts' with dance jams infused with soulful grooves like "Hey Mr. DJ", "Groove Thang", and "Sending My Love." Remember? She was the shorter of the two who wove her vocal end with that of siren-mate, Renee Neuville, to produce some of the hottest hits of day.  You know who she is now right? Well, not really. You know who she was. A good taste of chart-topping success and a long absence from it seemingly dotted with life lessons has given Baylor the opportunity to fully reflect and acknowledge many things.  The result?  A new way of life steeped in spirituality and appreciation, encouraging yet something else new - Testimony: My life Story, a solo debut in which Baylor sets an account of relatable ups and downs while also fervently trumpeting her glory to God for the way through them.

Do you know who Jean Baylor is? Does the name Zhane ring a bell? Yes that stylishly suave female dynamic duo that sprinkled the 90's Billboard Charts' with dance jams infused with soulful grooves like "Hey Mr. DJ", "Groove Thang", and "Sending My Love." Remember? She was the shorter of the two who wove her vocal end with that of siren-mate, Renee Neuville, to produce some of the hottest hits of day.  You know who she is now right? Well, not really. You know who she was. A good taste of chart-topping success and a long absence from it seemingly dotted with life lessons has given Baylor the opportunity to fully reflect and acknowledge many things.  The result?  A new way of life steeped in spirituality and appreciation, encouraging yet something else new - Testimony: My life Story, a solo debut in which Baylor sets an account of relatable ups and downs while also fervently trumpeting her glory to God for the way through them.

Testimony is a gamut of soulful feels and heartfelt prose topped by some beautiful vocal performance.  Firm examples of her ability and engaging melodious tone shine through on much here even when the song itself could use a bit more development compositionally. But even in those cases the sweet voice, catchy hooks or familiar grooves may get one past that. "Days Like These" with its cool syncopated groove and futuristic flourishes may bring to mind a bit Amel Larrieux or for those heavy in the nu-soul scene, Sy Smith, while the lovely standout track ‘Come Go With Me" flaunts Baylor's own vocal flow atop acoustic guitar strums, spirited flute fills and beautiful string arrangements. "Wait For You Here", a stripped downed jewel with just guitar and layered vocals begs to be longer and "Here My Voice" with it's up-tempo bluesy lilt serving as backdrop for Baylor's buoyant tone and ideal vocal arrangements is too a winner that calls for at least a minute more.

Testimony: My Life Story in all reveals a collection of songs that fluctuate on a scale of overall strength. But through its highpoints it re-introduces us to a very capable vocal talent in Baylor who certainly warrants more opportunities to be heard while establishing that Zhane indeed represents only a part of who she was, not entirely who she is or can be.

By Bert Caldwell

 
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