MARC STAGGERS: Then And Now (Label: Mar Reg Music)

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The untimely passing of Luther Vandross left a huge void that has never been filled, and it’s unlikely that it ever will. Luther’s talent was unique – that’s why he achieved and deserved real superstar status. His regular albums were eagerly awaited by the soul fraternity who knew that they would deliver well-crafted, adult songs delivered by arguably the smoothest soul voice of all time and since his death different singers have tried to emulate that style and approach but few have come anywhere near – till now that is. With ‘Then And Now’, Marc Staggers has crafted what is easily the closet thing to a Luther Vandross album that we’re ever likely to get. Vocally the resemblance is uncanny. Staggers has the same warm, tuneful, velvety tone of the great man and – more importantly maybe – his songs and productions (in collaboration with his brother Reggie) are perfectly suited to that voice. All the songs deal with personal relationships – either romantic or between family members – and the productions allow the voice to do the work – no gimmicks, no distractions. There’s a thoughtful mix of tempos ranging from the energetic ‘Can’t Get Enough Of This Groove’ to the wonderful ballad ‘He Can Never Love You’ and in between there’s enough crisp mid-tempo items to keep both modern soulsters and steppers bopping for hours. Of those the best is possibly ‘L.O.V.E.’ – a tribute to a lost family member (his father?) methinks, though ‘If I Was Your Lover’ is every bit as good – there’s a great hook on that one. The surprise is that this isn’t Staggers’ first album. The young Washingtonian began his musical crusade in gospel and several recordings have won him support in that field and led to work with people like the Winans, but ‘Then And Now’ is the man’s first secular outing and with it he’s declared the arrival of a major talent. You can find out more about Marc at
(BB) 4/5