Since Eric Benét stepped out on his own we have been treated to some awesome work and, like other 21st Century soul artists such as Kem, have been allowed by their Major label masters to create what they do best - soul music, and NOT what the homeboys – those not even born in the late 1980s, or were still in diapers - want. This rates as Eric's most consistent and essential set to date. On here Eric relates to us his true soulful nature and his healthy love and respect for the sweet Philly soul sound. It's blatantly obvious that Eric is a fan of the likes of Thom Bell. He has worked with his team to create a faithful representation of that idyllic sound but in a 2010 setting and my only regret is that he has not worked with Thom Bell himself...I would give anything to have this great man make a return to the recording studio and the likes of Eric Benét would be ideal a vehicle for his talents.
Every track is a winner...the Stylistics-like groove, complete with lush strings and sitar is immediately present on our platform track, "Never Want To Live Without You". To be honest, I would have bought this CD purely on the strength of this and this alone BUT the fact that every other song on this CD is equally as essential just makes my heart and soul sing. Kiddie's artist Faith Evans even sounds good (albeit with some computer tweaking) on the Emotions / EW&F sounding "Feel Good" and adds to her recent album that sees her start to grow up musically, albeit a little. Fans of New York City and the Stylistics early 70s sound will so love track 4, "Always A Reason" - a phenomenal track that really hits my heart. Songs like this with real talent, real orchestration and crafted with love and quality make me feel so warm, and this great sound feels perfect at this time of the year. I'll be playing this yet again today as I get the Christmas tree ready!
The Philly connection is strong with the legendary Eddie Levert stepping up to the mic to deliver the string-laden, wah-wah filled uptempo number "Paid". This is SUPERB! It’s really great to hear Eddie back in the studio doing his thing. The great man has had such devastating losses recently and this performance shows his inner strength coming to the fore. Chrisette Michelle workd well on the wonderfully arranged effort "Take It", the bassline is to die for as is the flute and piano lead. The vocalist is also competent and certainly far better than a lot of today's nasal whiners. The strings and horns that fill "Stir It Up" are magnificent. Again, "Lost In Time" gets a Thom Bell approach and ticks all the boxes and Ledisi comes on strong with a great performance with "Good Life" Mind you, ANYTHING is better than her last album which was the biggest pile of doo-doo I'd heard in ages. Welcome back, Ledisi! As usual, Eric Benét ends the album on a mighty strong note..."Something's Wrong" is a KILLER and with sadness we realise the CD is over. It is a magnificent thing that a major label today can allow a beautiful CD like this. Of course, many moons ago before the likes of Teddy Riley and his clones swept away adult R&B, this was perfectly normal as a release from the big boys. Hopefully some sanity will set in and these labels will release we are not ALL rap fans, ganstas or children. Albums like this are timeless and replenish the soul. More!
The Vibe Scribe.