OMAR CUNNINGHAM: Time Served (Label: Soul 1st.)

  • Home
  • Reviews
  • OMAR CUNNINGHAM: Time Served (Label: Soul 1st.)

Omar Cunningham is one of a dying breed – a committed, convincing Southern soul man who knows that his music must move forward without sacrificing the integrity of its roots. In that respect we could class him with people like Jaheim, Anthony Hamilton and Calvin Richardson, but there’s something really special about Cunningham’s delivery that – in my mind at any rate – puts him above that truly eminent trio. It’s hard to quantify exactly what it is, but the more I listen, the more I get to thinking that in the rich-voiced Alabaman we have, at last, a true successor to Bobby Womack (though I wouldn’t let Bobby know he needs a successor right now!) Hear the Cunningham-Womack connection to best effect on ‘Could You Be” – a big, bracing cut that could be the great man’s ‘Looking For A Love part 2’. ‘The Right Woman’ – which features great support from Daybreak – is also redolent of the Soul Poet, while ballads like ‘Where Would I Be’ and ‘By My Side’ could easily be Womack’s. In other places I was making comparison to the Dramatics (‘If You Want Me’ has chord changes that owe a lot to ‘In The Rain’), while on the old school groover ‘Cheek To Cheek’ my reference point was Johnnie Taylor down in Malaco. In keeping with best Southern soul traditions, Cunningham makes sure there’s a couple of songs about cheating in the next room. ‘The Beauty Shop’ and ‘The Same Soap’ offer new twists on love triangles and interestingly that last one has just a hint of R. Kelly’s ‘Ignition’ in its structure – see what I mean about ancient and modern? ‘My Life’ is another goodie – more than a hint of Roy Ayers’ ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ in there… but in honesty there are no duds on the set… apart from the pointless skits and intros. I fail to understand their importance and their inclusion is the thing that prevents me giving the album the full 5 out of 5 review which Cunningham deserves. Check it all out for yourself at
(BB) 4/5