CALVIN RICHARDSON: When Love Comes (Label: Shanachie)

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Though he’d been around for a while before, Calvin Richardson made his solo recording debut in 1999 with ‘Country Boy’. Maybe because the album featured a Bobby Womack song, Calvin was very favourably compared to the great Soul Poet. His second album, ‘2:35 PM’ followed in 2003 and it sold well. Despite the initial success, we’ve had to wait some five years for this, his third full album – the wonderful ‘When Love Comes’. In the album’s introductory track Calvin hints at why there was a delay. He alludes to the restrictions of working with the bigger labels and about being “stepped on and hated on” but, he adds, he’s right back now to claim his mantle as “The Soul Prince“. Finally in control of writing and producing, he feels he can now do what he knows he does best – that is, offer classic soul for the 21st. century… and that’s exactly what’s on the menu here. The LP’s lead single sums it all up. ‘Sang No More’ is a great modern soul tune. It has great beats, a big vocal and a lovely melody – but it shows its provenance by sampling the Dells’ classic ‘Oh What A Nite’. Indeed dip in anywhere here and that’s what you’ll hear – real modern music with its roots in soul’s classic past. And like the great soul albums of the past, this collection offers real variety – both in its grooves and its messages. Songs like ‘Fire In The Attic’ and ‘Give It To Me’ are unashamedly sexist – the imagery is strictly Agent Provocateur and the beats designed for booty bumping. At the other extreme, ‘She’s Hurtin’ advocates the more sensitive metrosexual approach to the ladies, while ‘Daddy To My Kids’ praises all-on paternal sensitivity. What holds this diversity together is Richardson’s wonderful soul voice. We’ve already said that on his first album he was compared to Bobby Womack though some critics made comparison to Sam Cooke. Sure, you can hear both those greats in his approach, but Calvin’s now totally his own man – hear the powerful attack and the subtle nuances to best effect on the lovely ‘Nobdoy Loves You’ – but hit any track and you won’t be disappointed…as we’ve said “classic soul for the 21st. century”.
(BB) 4/5