Lynne Fiddmont - Power of Love (2018)

Lynne Fiddmont
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Lynne Fiddmont - Power of Love

The fourth album from St. Louis native Lynne Fiddmont, Power of Love, is a notably eclectic collection of free-spirited steppers’ grooves, contemplative ballads, and heartfelt renditions of soul staples. Emoting tenderness and sass amidst a pleasing assortment of tunes played largely with live instrumentation, the former touring vocalist for the likes of Lou Rawls and Bill Withers puts a lucid and stylish stamp on each of the 11 cuts within, making for an album that is both relaxing and enticing.

Lynne Fiddmont - Power of Love

The fourth album from St. Louis native Lynne Fiddmont, Power of Love, is a notably eclectic collection of free-spirited steppers’ grooves, contemplative ballads, and heartfelt renditions of soul staples. Emoting tenderness and sass amidst a pleasing assortment of tunes played largely with live instrumentation, the former touring vocalist for the likes of Lou Rawls and Bill Withers puts a lucid and stylish stamp on each of the 11 cuts within, making for an album that is both relaxing and enticing.

The opening “Groovy People,” a snappy cover of Lou Rawls’ top-20 1976 hit, may be a little soft for some tastes, but its arrangement (accentuated by Darrell Crooks’ cookin’ guitar lines) is admirable in its genuine musical disposition. In colorful contrast, the midtempo swayer “Daylight” bears velvety neo-soul shadings which Fiddmont infiltrates with a quietly passionate, romantically expressive interpretation. Subsequently, the bouncy stroll of “Walkin’ on Rainbows” engages with passages of positivity in the midst of strife set to an ol’ skool-savvy beat and funky guitar lines courtesy of Carl Burnett.

Effectively transitioning from the kinetic tendencies of “Rainbows,” Fiddmont cools to an inviting whisper on the daydreamy title cut to rapturous lines of devotion: “Rushing like a river when you move right through me…I just can’t take control of the spell that I’m under/It’s taken my very soul over.” Embellished along the way by the signature wafting sax fills of Dave Koz, the slow jam transports the listener almost effortlessly. Shortly thereafter, the vibe mutates to mellowly festive via “Good Time Party,” a percussion- and guitar-laden extended interlude of sorts rocked by vibrantly fluid group vocals extolling the simple pleasures of a day of fun.

The latter half of Power of Love finds Fiddmont putting her spin on a trio of soul classics, two rendered originally by Minnie Riperton and another by Stevie Wonder. Although the choice of “Lovin’ You” is not surprising, Fiddmont does the gem a fine service by resisting the temptation to fill the space in its melodies with frills and ostentatious phrasing. By contrast, her delivery is elegant in a simple manner which flows quite comfortably with the lush piano work of Herman Jackson and just-right acoustic bass strides of Edwin Livingston. She and Pam Trotter compliment the affair with intricately arranged and expertly placed backing harmonies.

Fiddmont’s remake of Wonder’s trilingual 1976 ode to universal love, “Ngiculela - Es Una Historia - I Am Singing,” is a marked departure from the original (the aforementioned “Good Time Party” is, in fact, more in line musically with Wonder’s recording). Refashioning the celebratory number as a smooth, contemporary jazz-tinged midtempo entry, the cut brings forth the message in a calming demeanor which isn’t as riveting as Wonder’s, but is commendably its own entity.

Riperton’s “Memory Lane” serves as the closer to Power of Love (on the late songbird’s 1979 Minnie LP, it was the opening cut). Slowed down a bit, the evergreen makes for a suitable conclusion to the winding road of relationships explored by Fiddmont throughout the set. Of course, the song is strongly associated with Riperton, and Fiddmont’s take doesn’t match it in vigor. But she respects its melodic temperament and strays from overshooting phrases or detracting from the faithful rhythm section arrangement.

With Power of Love, Fiddmont and company have crafted a well-rounded selection of meaningful songs with a thread of positivity in words and affluence in melody. Delivered with thoughtful styling and strong musicianship, listeners of a variety of ages and musical backgrounds will likely find more than a few moments of fulfilling repertoire within. Recommended.

by Justin Kantor

 

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