Melba Moore - Forever Moore (2016)

Melba Moore
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During the course of her 50 years in the music business thus far, Melba Moore has racked up an impressive 30-plus charting R&B singles and 13 albums, while also leaving her mark on the Broadway stage and small screen. An ugly split from Orpheus Records during the early 1990s put a halt to her long-running commercial success; but since then, the esteemed vocalist has continued to release material ranging from 2002’s gospel collection I’m Still Here to a 2009 duet set with Phil Perry, The Gift of Love. In the process, she’s turned in continually memorable performances, falling victim only to limited production budgets—and a resulting loss of the artistic vision that guided many of her LP’s of the 1970s and ‘80s.

During the course of her 50 years in the music business thus far, Melba Moore has racked up an impressive 30-plus charting R&B singles and 13 albums, while also leaving her mark on the Broadway stage and small screen. An ugly split from Orpheus Records during the early 1990s put a halt to her long-running commercial success; but since then, the esteemed vocalist has continued to release material ranging from 2002’s gospel collection I’m Still Here to a 2009 duet set with Phil Perry, The Gift of Love. In the process, she’s turned in continually memorable performances, falling victim only to limited production budgets—and a resulting loss of the artistic vision that guided many of her LP’s of the 1970s and ‘80s.

The cleverly titled Forever Moore, her first solo release in over a decade, proves that she’s still a remarkably vibrant singer and also boasts several bright compositional moments. Overall, however, a combination of less-than-memorable melodies and generic arrangements hamper what should have been a more shining return to form. Longtime fans will undoubtedly enjoy hearing Moore strut her stuff on the nostalgic, chilled-out dancer “The Way of Love” and the celebratory “It’s My Time Again”; but whether that’s enough to lure listeners unfamiliar with her stellar back catalog or not is questionable. On the midtempo title track, she sings, “I’m more than just a memory/What’s meant to be was meant to be,” accompanied by programming that sounds like it was recycled from late-‘90s masters. Meanwhile, her effort to uplift weary souls on “Things Always Work Out” is plausible in tone and phrasing, though over-simplified lines like “The scratch-off’s just ain’t comin’ through” and “Don’t you give up now, even in your darkness light is your horizon” may not quite resonate with lyrically discerning audiences.

Several cuts on Forever Moore come close to hitting the spot, but fall short of leaving a lasting impression. The uptempo “Let’s Dance” is pleasant enough in its feel-good message and well-placed background vocals, but Moore herself doesn’t sound entirely convinced as she utters, “You’re lookin’ at me all night, I know I’m lookin’ fine tonight.”  On the slower side, the smooth-grooving midtempo tune “Last Forever” (featuring an uncredited male vocalist) is, in fact, rather stylish—that is, prior to ending before it starts at a mere two-and-a-half minutes.

Anticipated by consumers for more than a few years, Forever Moore was preceded by several singles (not included here) and a title change…both factors which would suggest that serious thought was being put into the final product and presentation. While the end result is musically passable and certainly performed in fine vocal form, the majority of selections and their respective production approaches lack any real edge and feel more rushed than concerned with making a cohesive statement. Consequently, there’s enough of Melba’s presence to satiate hardcore fans, yet little of the spark akin to her classic work with Kashif or Van McCoy to rank Forever Moore amongst many of her more lovingly crafted earlier albums. Moderately recommended.

By Justin Kantor 
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