Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Calvin Richardson - When Love Comes - 2008 - Shanachie

Calvin Richardson has that certain something. When I bought his “Country Boy” album back in the Summer of 1999 I knew full well that what we had here was talent. His appropriate cover of Bobby Womack's “I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much” was superb and, to me, set his stall out for where he was coming from, and what he was about. His gritty, down home approach, and wrenching, fist-clenching rips and roars punch through the flimsy veneer of today's R&B and when he delves into more urban territory, as he does here, he marks his territory and claws back the idiom from the street back to the delta and the pit of the soul. Although tracks such as “Sexy Love” may be a bit rougher than we may have come to expect, cuts such as “Holla At You” with its rumbling bassline, summery guitar and street nods are more comfy for the connoisseurs out there. The different and rootsier “Fire In The Attic” really harks back to his solo set. The soul man speaks, he lays it down and the acoustic backing allows Calvin to really lay down his more soulful chops. Superb. Again we have this with “She's Hurtin'” which is bassy with some electric guitar adding extra grittiness. The phrasing here is almost up there with the likes of K-Ci Hailey – a contemporary and an artist sympathetic to Calvin's style and sensibility.

One of my favourites is the excellent “Nobody Loves You” which is an ode to summertime loving and it is a warm and inviting song that Calvin carries with much success let alone dignity. Classy. For traditionalists who love a more southern flavour I really would like to recommend “Sang No More” which has a classic melody and guitar riff that the likes of Johnnie Taylor or Marvin Sease would be proud of. Another I think will suit this taste is “Make Friends With Love”; I love the title and sentiment to this, and the roostier side of the Man is laid bare – the sermon begins and Calvin testifies his truth on Love. Amen, brother! The lovely “Daddy To My Kids” is touching and heartfelt yet NOT schmalzy or sugary. In fact it's dealing with hard reality and speaks of a man dealing with adversity and laying down the law and putting his children first, second and third. This is the song and soul of a TRUE man and I know many like myself can connect and feel this. Calvin's originality bears out with the optimistic “When Love Comes” and discusses commitment and attachment in a deep emotional sense. Excellent stuff here. The package may be a bit roughter and more urban than you may expect BUT stop, listen up and listen good. The essence here is NOT street, it is pure soul and traditional at that. A real good effort and one that has depth and volume. Check it out.

Barry Towler