Toni Redd - Catching the Redd Eye (2013)

Toni Redd
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Comparing Toni Redd’s sound to the late Phyllis Hyman is a compliment that soon morphs into an annoyance. Virtually any female vocalist would consider it the highest praise to be compared to the Phyllis Hyman. However, all artists yearn to be considered on their own terms. Redd likely knows that wish is easy to verbalize but hard to fulfill in a world where making comparisons and compiling lists is the Cliff’s Notes method of gaining understanding.

So making an effort to remain in the here and now serves as the best way to evaluate Catching the Redd Eye, Redd’s latest project. And it won’t take long to acknowledge that Catching the Redd Eye stands up pretty well on its own.

Comparing Toni Redd’s sound to the late Phyllis Hyman is a compliment that soon morphs into an annoyance. Virtually any female vocalist would consider it the highest praise to be compared to the Phyllis Hyman. However, all artists yearn to be considered on their own terms. Redd likely knows that wish is easy to verbalize but hard to fulfill in a world where making comparisons and compiling lists is the Cliff’s Notes method of gaining understanding.

So making an effort to remain in the here and now serves as the best way to evaluate Catching the Redd Eye, Redd’s latest project. And it won’t take long to acknowledge that Catching the Redd Eye stands up pretty well on its own.

Redd hits the ground running on Catching the Redd Eye. “Just Me” serves as her answer to those who mistakenly pigeonhole her as a one trick ballad singer. The mid-tempo funk number is one of those tunes that allow Redd to introduce herself to the audience while also taking a victory lap for the hard work that allowed her career to progress to this point.

Two other tracks allow Redd to take listeners deeper into the jazz/funk vein. “To The Floor” sports a driving bass and a Harmon muted trumpet and tells the story of a couple finding love on the dance floor. Redd adopts a sassy tone on “It’s About Me,” a tune in which she sets a selfish and needy acquaintance straight. The track’s rolling bass line gives the number a feel of tension conflict and Redd’s conversational yet aggressive vocals compliment the instrumental arrangement.

The jazz-influenced Redd is underrated as a singer of high energy R&B and funk, but she is all listeners expect and then some when it comes to the art of the ballad. Tracks such as “Every Moment,” and “What You Mean To Me” serve as excellent platforms to display Redd’s combination of jazz infused phrasing with vocals that are soulful and passionate without being over embellished. The lyrics in “Motion Picture” paint a vivid picture of a person looking back on time spent with a recently departed loved one.

On Catching the Redd Eye, Toni Redd provides the template for artists looking to craft a distinct identity while also recognizing the debt they owe to the legends of the past. That mission is accomplished by creating music that is lyrically strong performed by an artist who is in full control of her vocal instrument. That so few artists can successfully thread that needle is what makes what Redd accomplishes on Catching the Redd Eye all the more remarkable. Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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