Ronald Isley - This Song Is For You (2013)

Ronald Isley
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It's rare to be such a trailblazing icon that your musical imprint spans over half a century and includes multiple genres, but that's a true statement to describe living legend Ron Isley. That sleek, fluttery tenor has shaped funk jams, social statement songs and yes, those bedroom ballads for so long that even when he's not in the mix with current material, his  influence is both ubiquitous and indelible on modern R&B.
 
Since Mr. Isley has accomplished all that an entertainer could ever dream of and has recorded enough material with his family and without to fill a dozen iPods, some probably wonder why Mr. Isley doesn't post up and live the champagne life. The reason might be that due to his cold-as-ice Mack Daddy persona, Mr.
It's rare to be such a trailblazing icon that your musical imprint spans over half a century and includes multiple genres, but that's a true statement to describe living legend Ron Isley. That sleek, fluttery tenor has shaped funk jams, social statement songs and yes, those bedroom ballads for so long that even when he's not in the mix with current material, his  influence is both ubiquitous and indelible on modern R&B.
 
Since Mr. Isley has accomplished all that an entertainer could ever dream of and has recorded enough material with his family and without to fill a dozen iPods, some probably wonder why Mr. Isley doesn't post up and live the champagne life. The reason might be that due to his cold-as-ice Mack Daddy persona, Mr. Biggs, he's caught the ears of a younger audience (50% of whom were probably conceived to his earlier hits) and wants to get behind the boards with artists of a new generation (also likely owing their existence, literally or figuratively, to his catalog), and that's what This Song Is For You represents. 
 
A 13-song collection that brings back the production skills of Troy Taylor (from 2006's Baby Makin' Music) and also puts Johnta Austin, Bryan Michael-Cox and Kendrick Dean at the helm, the 72-year-old updates his signature style and ageless croon with a few vintage moments to include both ends of the fan base. He lands right in the middle with "My Favorite Thing," his lively mid-tempo with Kem positioning them as two men boasting about their superwomen as they beg to get back in their bedrooms good graces. Kem's nimble delivery, along with Mr. Isley's trademark runs and "well well well wellllls" make the track one of the CD's best. "The Boss" puts him in a 'cater to my baby' mode, letting his lady call the shots after a stressful day on the grind: "And at the end of the night, I will lay you down/make love to my queen, fulfill your fantasies. Then you can lay in my arms til the rising sun/and you ain't never got to worry about nothin' at all, cuz' Girl you're with the best, whooo-hooo...."
 
There aren't any true uptempos to be found here, but there are a few surprise turns, such as his reconfiguring the Isley Brothers classic, "Between The Sheets," into "Another Night" and using another quiet storm original "Voyage To Atlantis" to fuel the worshipful "Make Love To Your Soul." The second duet to be found, "Lay You Down" with Trey Songz, is more calculated than cool, but Songz manages to hold his own with the veteran soul man and pays homage to his legacy at the same time by including Isley-esque runs and trills. Mr. Biggs also returns on "He Won't Ever Love You," coaxing a lady who's on the fence about leaving her unfulfilling relationship to finally pack her bags, make tracks and get on with her life (while in his bedroom of course) : "You know we've done this dance, a few times before/we're on a merry-go-round Baby, and now it's getting old/ So Baby let's not waste each other's time, cuz' you know my love in him you'll never find."
 
The remaining tracks follow the direction that was established in the CD's first single, "Dinner And a Movie": enjoyable, if not particularly inventive, adult-contemporary soul. In comparison to his last project, 2010's Mr. I, This Song....is less ambitious and has more of a leisurely pace, but let's keep it real---when you've blazed as many trails as this legendary performer, you not required to reinvent the wheel every time. All he needs to do is make sure that his new release continues the same path and demonstrates what set Mr. Biggs, AKA Ronald Isley, apart to begin with. And that's what can be anticipated when downloading, or purchasing, This Song Is For You. Moderately Recommended.
 
By Melody Charles 
 

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