Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Calvin Richardson - Facts Of Life: The Soul Of Bobby Womack - 2009 - Shanachie

The moment I heard this gentleman sing his first note on "Country Boy" back in 1999 it was blatantly obvious that likeness to the legendary Bobby Womack would ensue. Rightly so, too. Calvin has the deep soul, that southern pulpit, testifying inner fire and yet he is totally distinguishable as an artist in his own right with his own style. Bobby Womack is a God. He may not be active on the scene at the moment but the plethora of Great Works he has out there is beyond reproach. It was with some trepidation that I saw this album. Now, as you are acutely aware I start snarling when I see yet another set of cover versions, and God knows, Shanachie seem hell-bent on this form of thing, very wrongly so in my own opinion BUT this CD actually works very well, and to be fair if anyone is even going to consider attempting to cover any Womack tune, who better to do it that Calvin Richardson? The album is SOLID. Vocally, Calvin is not only on top form, but he proves that he knows these songs intimately. He works the lyrics, the melodies and nuances expertly and with love and reverence. In his voice I hear jubilation, raging adulthood and experience - a thing that most of today's whiskerless RnB stars simply do not have.

Every track is worked well, it's as simple as that. It's odd, as you know and love these songs and Calvin has not totally ripped the guts out in any creative melodic fashion, yet they are so well arranged and reworked that it's like discovering them all over again. Come on, if anyone can remake "Harry Hippy" nicely then they're a friend of mine! A classic song and treated with all the due care and respect it deserves. Lush is a word I try not to use often, but that is all I can think of when I hear gems like "Across 110th Street", and I was blown away by the Thom Bell flavour of "Daylight". This is something I really feel. "I'm Through Trying To Prove My Love To You" is exquisite in conception and delivery. Calvin is a REAL soul singer and the sensitive arrangements do him much more credit than the more contemporary urban sound he adopted on his last CD. It's that home-cooked, rootsy, earthy and no-nonsense quality of Womack that Richardson finds his strengths. You cannot fail to like this CD, and if you don't already own it - pick one up. Excellent soul for 2009.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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