Monday, 4 October 2010

Calvin Richardson - America's Most Wanted - 2010 - Shanachie

Shanachie do themselves proud on two fronts. Firstly they rightly appreciate the awesome talent of Mr. Calvin Richardson, and secondly allow him the freedom to create an original album on non-covers that sees the gent back in the familiar rootsy ground which we first discovered him on 1999's "Country Boy". The sheer soul that this man exudes is something rare these days, especially coming out of America and we really have to rally around talents like this to ensure they get all the recognition they deserve. Many see a resemblance to the great Bobby Womack, and they aren't wrong, although there is a different passion here and a different direction. The healthy, testifyin' raw and gritty catharsistic edge is never far from the surface, and the grittier Southern flavours never too far away either, but this is no sop to the grits circuit. It's quality mainstream contemporary adult R&B and should be applauded for being so.

Real musicianship abounds drums, strings and percussion, and one feels that the flavour of Al Green's "Lay It Down" set is a close equal in style. This set satisfies me on many a level, and the real, warm strings and Womack cum Philly guitars certainly a boon, too. There isn't, to be honest, a track that doesn't hit the mark and yet I do have some standout cuts that i would like to bring to your attention. The opening cut - the title song - flows in an early / mid 1970s flavour and the vibrant musicianship and vocals make this a real gem. The song is a real gem, and doesn't need any more said about it really. fans of this man will not be disappointed at all. "Feels Like We're Sexin'" isn't a raging teenage R&B drivel-based cut at all, but a great rhythmic affair with great guitar licks and shines out a summery vibe on what we could describe as a modern stepping groove meets the early 1970s. I cannot stop playing this song, and yet again listening to this style of music in 2010 really warms my heart.

The Womack-like spoken intro to "Come Over" really takes us back to the early 70s, but with a 2010 sensibility, and here Calvin shows the manufactured non-talents out there what real singing and real music is all about. This IS the real deal. For more real soul action, look no further than "Reach Out" from which the musical platform isn't far removed from the likes of William Devaughan back in the day. Female vocalist Nadia steps alongside Calvin on this song and although I'm not sure she's the strongest vocalist for this song as she's weak in the young R&B so-called diva sense and may appeal to fans of Mary J Blige or faith Evans, she is no match for real vocalists along the lines of Vesta Williams, Shirley Murdock or someone of similar power. This quibble aside, we move on to "Adore You" which is BRILLIANT. Another quality summery ballad that sums up everything brilliant about this magnificent artist. So, as an album, 11 tracks of excellence, soul and uncompromisingly real and gritty set (maybe bar the contemporary effort, "Paradise"!), and all told a blinding set and one that I cannot fail to recommend to you. One to grab ASAP!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe