Stanley James - Full Circle - Little Dizzy Records
I first came across Stanley James a few years back when his ‘Takin’ It Back caused some ripples in the North West modern soul rooms. Since then I’ve discovered that the soulfully voiced Stan is a graduate of the Chicago gospel circuit. For a while he worked the clubs around Baltimore before retuning to Chicago , where, on the evidence, of this set, at least, he seems to have come strongly under the influence of Chi-town’s best, R. Kelly. Many of the cuts on this 14 tracker owe much to Bobby – most notably , ‘Nobody But You’ and ‘Never Meant To Hurt You’. The former is one of those stuttering ballads that Kelly specialises in, while the latter knicks melodies wholesale from the Kelly songbook Elsewhere you’ll the R&B flavours of people like Ginuwine, Twista and Bones N Thugs N Harmony, while the opening ‘Like Yeah’ owes more than a little to ‘No Diggity’. Nothing at all wrong with all this - but to survive in the competitive soul/R&B market place you need as much originality as possible – and I for one can see little value in penning a song called ‘In The Rain’ and prefacing it with rainfall sound effects… hardly original. That’s said, though, those who scour sets like this for dancers will find two bona fide goodies in ‘Don’t Take It Personal’ and ‘Old School Party’ – but again, both owe something to Kelly when he’s in steppers mode –but they are good and will offer mileage to the modern rooms. Generally then, a decent album that sits right on the cusp of soul and R&B.