Robert Gee - All My Love (2008)

Robert Gee
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It becomes clearer every day that independent soul music has come of age.  The time of the poorly produced CD that sounds like two guys in their garage playing on a Casio keyboard is long gone. Affordable recording and packaging techniques, new internet-based distribution methods, and an active community of talented musicians working together on a barter basis have resulted in a new generation of independent CD releases that are on par sonically and visually with those of the major record labels. How else do you explain a CD like All My Love, the debut album by Cali-based singer/songwriter Robert Gee?  Boasting a level of musicianship and production sheen that is indistinguishable from its major label counterparts, All My Love is the type of disc that was virtually impossible for an unsigned artist to release a decade ago.

It becomes clearer every day that independent soul music has come of age.  The time of the poorly produced CD that sounds like two guys in their garage playing on a Casio keyboard is long gone. Affordable recording and packaging techniques, new internet-based distribution methods, and an active community of talented musicians working together on a barter basis have resulted in a new generation of independent CD releases that are on par sonically and visually with those of the major record labels. How else do you explain a CD like All My Love, the debut album by Cali-based singer/songwriter Robert Gee?  Boasting a level of musicianship and production sheen that is indistinguishable from its major label counterparts, All My Love is the type of disc that was virtually impossible for an unsigned artist to release a decade ago. But here it is at CD Baby and independent retailers around the country, with nary an international conglomerate involved.  Welcome to the democratization of music, circa 2008.

With the brave new world of recording technology allowing relatively inexpensive productions to sound and feel on par with big budgeted counterparts, it all comes down to the great equalizers: the singer and the song.  And that's where a CD like All My Love shows its edge.  Sounding like a vocal blend of Kool & the Gang's James "JT" Taylor and Gospel's J. Moss, Gee possesses an expressive, versatile tenor voice that is both commercial and appealing.  And it is made all the more attractive via his unerring knack for a hook in the eleven compositions on  All My Love. 

The disc opens smartly with its best track, the midtempo title cut.  With immediate, jumpy percussion and Pamela Williams' jazz sax as a backdrop, Gee confidently glides through this great, radio-ready track.  And the good news is that while "All My Love" is the album's most commercial cut, it is by no means the only memorable one.  Gee has a keen sense of melody that pervades all of his compositions, and each has enough hook to please.  So even though a few cuts like "Can I Tell You" and "I Don't Want To Lose Your Love" (with the requisite rap interlude) are a bit underdeveloped beyond the catchy hook, others such as the beautiful inspirational track "No Greater Love" and the 70s style slow jams "Come Home" and "I Really Miss Your Love" are absolutely top notch. 

Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about All My Love -- and there are a lot of enjoyable moments on this disc -- is that Gee has taken on the oversaturated world of contemporary R&B, where attitude and gimmicks have largely replaced song construction and vocal prowess, and has released an earnest, deceptively simple disc, where melody and honest to goodness singing shine through.  Consequently, by taking a slightly old school approach to his debut, Robert Gee sounds absolutely fresh, issuing one of the most consistently accessible albums of the year.  Highly recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 
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