BONEY JAMES: Honestly (Concord)


The first thing I noticed about this new Boney James album is the guest list…. the set’s two focus vocal cuts feature Avery Sunshine and Eric Roberson. The pair seems to be cropping up as guests everywhere these last few months…. not that we’re complaining. Their soulful talents enhance everything they work on and here on the album title track and ‘If I Can’t Hold You’ they bring an alternative kind of shading to what is a workmanlike smooth jazz sax-led album. Fans of Boney James, knowing what to expect, will love it.

The Avery Sunshine-led ‘Honestly’ is a rather sombre, hushed ballad that dips into neo/nu soul territory while Roberson’s is another ballad that would fit well into late night radio Quiet Storm formats … not sure if they still exist. On both, James’ tenor weaves between the vocal refrain.

Elsewhere, expect what Boney James does best – quality soul-based, smooth jazz grooves that range from the not too frantic up-tempo (‘We Came To Party’ and ‘Up All Night’) to the slow and stately (‘Speak Easy’ and ‘Low And Slow’).

The album’s cover is a treatment of the Johnny Mercer/Hoagy Carmichael standard, ‘Skylark’. With just Darrell Smith’s keyboard for company, James delivers a delight.

(BB) 3/5