Karyn White - Gale & The Storm (Soundtrack) (2017)

Karyn White
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Karyn White - Gale and the Storm (Soundtrack)

With more than three decades’ worth of internationally renowned work as a singer and songwriter traversing the R&B, pop, and contemporary jazz landscapes, Karyn White is in the perfect position to capture the triumphs and trials of the music industry with her cinematic debut in Gale & The Storm. As the music-driven flick’s lead actress and co-screenplay writer, the always stylish chanteuse charts the course of a former top-charting vocalist back into the spotlight in the title role. Complementing the film’s intriguing storyline, the soundtrack boasts nine new White selections, in addition to compelling originals by Club Nouveau’s Jay King, his brother Anthony “AK” King, and up-and-comer Joe Leavy.

Karyn White - Gale and the Storm (Soundtrack)

With more than three decades’ worth of internationally renowned work as a singer and songwriter traversing the R&B, pop, and contemporary jazz landscapes, Karyn White is in the perfect position to capture the triumphs and trials of the music industry with her cinematic debut in Gale & The Storm. As the music-driven flick’s lead actress and co-screenplay writer, the always stylish chanteuse charts the course of a former top-charting vocalist back into the spotlight in the title role. Complementing the film’s intriguing storyline, the soundtrack boasts nine new White selections, in addition to compelling originals by Club Nouveau’s Jay King, his brother Anthony “AK” King, and up-and-comer Joe Leavy.

Gale & The Storm’s tagline, “Bringing Back the Funk,” aptly describes the overall musical tone and underlying character of the music within. From the opening groove of White’s “Where I Belong,” in which producer Derek “DOA” Allen infuses a Sly Stone rhythmic feel underneath the tune’s motivating lyrics and feel-good melodies, the fire burns steadily with glowing heat. Taking a hint or two from the Marvin Gaye songbook, Leavy’s sophisticated and sweet “Inside of You” incorporates symphonic influences and jazzy nuances with a grabbing, Kem-esque rhythmic arrangement that provides a supple platform for his rich tenor phrasing of assuaging sensuality: “The way you’ll ride my love in motion, that magic moment will be found/I’ll go deep into your music, girl I love the way you sound.”

One of the sho ‘nuff funkiest moments in the album comes via White’s “Hurricane,” an ode to a turbulent romance which storms along with a strong beat, coy yet passionate backing harmonies, and a saucy, take-charge lead. “When I was a young girl, I was pure and so naive/Now that I’m a woman, you’ve been runnin’ your games on me,” she proclaims in a melody line representative of the mind-grabbing, head-nod-inciting knack that permeates the material at large. Equally contagious on the kinetic front, with a throwback feel that brings to mind the Mary Jane Girls’ “All Night Long,” the insidious “Love Quarantine” finds White exploring a lighter side of her dynamic range and imparting some entertaining dialogue in the process: “I don’t know what’s come over me…Got chills, nauseous, I can’t sleep/I went to the doctor…and he said it was all in my head/I know back in the day sometimes they used to quarantine for mumps and measles and chickenpox…I need a love quarantine.”

Evoking a Barry White atmosphere alongside a Temptations-style groove, Jay King’s “Good Kinda Lovin” is perhaps the set’s most understated moment. Showcasing the revered producer’s classy and soft-tinged tenor technique, the song spotlights both his prowess as a lyricist and interpreter. ”My lips kiss your eyes, my thoughts…are in your mind,” he imparts with silky calm in a distinctive timbre. “I’m deep in you, baby, and it’s so sublime.” Taking on a more contemporary vibe while still maintaining an edge of vintage, White’s “Lame Excuses” is an appealing display of her ability to balance power and subtlety.

Closing out Gale & The Storm, White comes full circle lyrically and musically with the perfervid romp “I Am the Storm,” on which she summons a throwdown vocal mode to deliver with conviction, “I eat fire, I make the earth shake/I walk on water, I make a bough break.” Behind her gritty utterances, she supplies a memorable, sing-along background hook which slides slickly in between the dirty guitar echoes and seeping bassline. It’s a fitting final testimony in a collection of 12 well-conceived, solidly executed tracks that possess clear-eyed lyrical themes, consistent musical luster, and thoroughly engaging performances throughout. Highly recommended.

by Justin Kantor

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