TONI REDD: N The Key Of Redd (Label: Nu Groove)

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TONI REDD: N The Key Of Redd

Toni Redd hails from Atlanta where she’s a regular on the city’s vibrant live soul and jazz scene. Her live shows, we’re told, draw enthusiastic response and local critics have made comparisons with Anita Baker; on the evidence of this 11 tracker, that’s a contention that would be hard to dispute. Ms Redd’s music has the same seemingly laid back tone as Ms. Baker’s, yet like Anita, beneath that surface there’s a controlled passion that adds conviction to each song. Working closely with producer Bob Baldwin, things are kept simple with most cuts featuring the same basic line-up of Baldwin on keys, Sam Sims on bass and Melvin Baldwin on drums. It’s that team that crafts one of the LP’s highlights, ‘I Apologise’. No, it’s not a cover of the Anita Baker classic, rather a Redd/Baldwin original… but surely there’s something Freudian at work. Be that as it may, the track has some great interplay with the backing chorus and it features some delightful piano from Baldwin. ‘Anytime Of Day’ is another album standout, offering some lovely smooth soul moments and here Baldwin allows Dr. Derek Scott to take a generous guitar solo as counterpoint to Ms. Redd’s svelte vocal. ‘Missing You’ has more of a lounge jazz feel to it while a cover of Christopher Cross’s ‘Sailing’ brings some variety to the album. Featuring some lugubrious synthesized strings, it shows that Toni can handle the familiar with real aplomb. There’s more variety in the scat duet with bassist Sims on ‘Always There For Me’, though in truth I could have done without the rocky guitar on the outro – a reprise of what was a decent cut – ‘I’m Changing’. It’s something of an aberration, but it doesn’t spoil a fine smooth soul album …not too much anyway.
(BB) 4/5