Sunday, 16 May 2010

Darnell Kendricks - Strawberry Lemonade - 2004

Darnell Kendricks is a quality artist - those of you that have supported his latest album, "Smooth Soul Café" won't argue with that statement, and on the strength of this I have re-visited his previous debut album from 2004, "Strawberry Lemonade". This is another album that I would rate as a 'no risk disc'. I am all for strong albums be they new or past, and the nature of our music often allows something from the distant past to remain as fresh as a contemporary release. This may as well be a new release and will delight you in equal amounts to his latest set. The track listing, be warned, is not the same as on the CD artwork - so beware! Instead of "Can't Wait" we have "Willing". This opens the album on an extremely firm footing and is strong enough to recommend a purchase on this track alone. The summery, laid back vibe of "Good Love" is lovely - the guitar line and synths remind me of classier independent efforts from the mid-late 1980s - the Macola sound from Los Angeles maybe, or something of that similar flavour.

The twinkling and anticipatory "Jones In My Bones" picks up the pace and what I like about this stepping groove is the thoughtful, jazzy piano. You'll like this! Fans of early 80s keyboards will immediately pick up on "Can't Wait", with heaps of organ and snapping finger beats the song is giddy with glee and I warmed straight away to the vocal arrangement which remind me, again, of Tim Miner and Brian McKnight. The jazzy title track widens the album up completely - nothing unexpected with a singer of Darnell's calibre - and helps create a refreshing oasis between this and many other more pedestrian albums on the market. Fans of 80s slap bass need look no further than "Truly Yours" - the slight Marvin-esque vocal play is lovely and as such make this one of THE standout cuts. The final song, "A Soft Answer" perfectly draws the set to a close and allows a jazzier, subtle vocal harmonic to set the scene here. The warbling guitar is something we would have been used to in the late 1980s, and the lilting, jazzy piano also adds extra intrigue. Darnell Kendricks, on this and his later release has set out his stall and marked his territory. No lightweight and no fly-by-night. Keep your eye on this gentleman. He's the real deal. Still available from CD Baby.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe