Kenny Lattimore - Vulnerable (2017)

Kenny Lattimore
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Kenny Lattimore – Vulnerable

It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since Kenny Lattimore first turned heads with the smooth and sexy “Never Too Busy” and the endearingly powerful “For You” from his self-titled debut album. While his early-2000s recordings with then-wife Chante’ Moore further solidified his credibility as a savvy interpreter of wide-ranging repertoire, several of his own albums got lost in the corporate shuffle. But since forming his own label, SincereSoul, he’s steadily rebuilt his reputation as both a vocalist and songwriter to be reckoned with. Any doubts that fans might have had during his long quiet period were quelled with 2015’s Anatomy of a Love Song and last year’s A Kenny Lattimore Christmas.

Kenny Lattimore – Vulnerable

It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since Kenny Lattimore first turned heads with the smooth and sexy “Never Too Busy” and the endearingly powerful “For You” from his self-titled debut album. While his early-2000s recordings with then-wife Chante’ Moore further solidified his credibility as a savvy interpreter of wide-ranging repertoire, several of his own albums got lost in the corporate shuffle. But since forming his own label, SincereSoul, he’s steadily rebuilt his reputation as both a vocalist and songwriter to be reckoned with. Any doubts that fans might have had during his long quiet period were quelled with 2015’s Anatomy of a Love Song and last year’s A Kenny Lattimore Christmas.

Vulnerable, Lattimore’s seventh solo CD, flows fluidly with 10 thoughtfully crafted songs that complement the singer’s graceful tenor tenacity with smart production values. His phrasing and nuances shines through, but the arrangements stand equally firm in their musicality.  The set’s lead single, “Push” is, in fact, the only selection that bends considerably to current trends—and it does so in a way that doesn’t compromise melodic or lyrical quality. The opening title track, although hip in its percussive programming patterns and atmospheric vocal effects, stays the purist course harmonically and in Lattimore’s subtle, softly glowing delivery. Equally fresh while still remaining free of gimmickry, the authentically romantic “Stay on Your Mind” assuages with simple, straightforward lyrics conveyed with gentle vocal earnestness and a head-nod-inducing chorus and rhythm arrangement. “So tell me when, tell me where, and I’ll stay on your mind/You can take control, I’ll return the favor if that’s what you want…Want to be the first thing on your mind in the morning/Like the song on the radio that you can’t stop singing.”

One definite highlight of Vulnerable lies in the summery, kinetic slice of synth-funk entitled “Priceless.” Producers Phillip Hill, Jr., and Dra-Kkar Wesley’s keyboard layerings and drum tracks bring to mind the ‘80s boogie flow of Loose Ends and The S.O.S. Band, while Lattimore’s voice rides the rhythm effortlessly in stylish falsetto through passages of desire and intention: “You don’t have to tell me who’s to blame, for letting you slip away/‘Cause I know exactly what to do with you/Don’t look back at the past, I’ll take care of that/Just know you’re worh more right now than then.” But the set’s closer, “More Than Life,” is unquestionably the centerpiece. Between Lattimore’s sanguine lyrics and producer Walter Jamie Hawkins’ idyllic instrumental elements, the tranquil ode to the singer’s son balances sweetness with strength in a truly classic fashion. “When I was your age, I wanted to change the world with a song,” Lattimore reflects with a purposeful, calmly encouraging tone. “But you might be greater than I’ll ever be.

The remaining selections on Vulnerable each please in their own way. “Perfection” hangs loose with a danceable groove, simultaneously embodying a chilled-out feel in John Wesley McGiver’s understated production and Madicin’s breezy chorus vocals; “Deserve” dabbles in a similar vibe with palatable harmonies and comforting lyrics of affectionate devotion. Fans purchasing the physical CD will be charmed by the bonus live recording of “Never Too Busy,” which Lattimore rephrases and his band reshapes in a way that nonetheless keeps the essence of the original. His vocal performance here resonates with every ounce of zest and richness that’s been there from the start and—as with the remainder of the album—possesses a singular keenness of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic flow. Highly Recommended.

by Justin Kantor

 

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