There's a lot to like here if you're a fan of silky-smooth romantic soul jazz, and I, for one, am. Having re-acquired Sade's killer Lovers: Live DVD last week, I was fully ready for something like this, but Journey packed a very cool little surprise alongside singer Douye: Terry Shaddick as producer on four cuts and co-writer of the entirety. Shaddick had been a member of the completely unknown but superb melodic rock group Tranquility, whose heavenly second LP was the sort of record some of the era (70s) wish the Hollies would have gone in the direction of. He then went on to help Olivia Newton-John with her smash Physical. Because of those Tranquility memories, though, when his name comes up, I pay attention.
However, Douye, a Nigerian-born American, is a unique artist in her own right. There's never an especial lack of mellow singers but there's always an insufficiency of really superior ones, and that's where this woman steps in. With much more in the way of a Sade, she's nonetheless in a realm with Kimiko Itoh, Randy Crawford, Tokeli, and any number of vocalists who maintain a stratospheric level of artistry. Just as important, though, is her backing band. Few realize how difficult it is to finesse this type of music, requiring a restraint too many are incapable of, where the notes are less populous than in any other genre but each one absolutely crucial. James Harrah and Jeff Pescetto man the guitars while Harry Kim and Gary Meek take up the winds, all impeccably rendered, but the bassist, keyboardist, and drummer aren't mentioned, curiously, and they're very good, especially the drummer (and if someone tells me the drums are synthetic, I'm going to you-know-what in my hat, 'cause they're way cool and much too warm to be a machine). Through it all, Shaddick's subtle hand in arrangements is evident and can be seen to have affected Pescetto's work, resulting in a seamless groove.
Each cut flows like a slow, balmy, tropic river into its successor and the homogeneity of the atmospherics is a definite plus, keeping the entire disc in a utopian sadjoy, a bluesy side, torchy while narcotically mellifluous. A few of the cuts capture an echo of the older Motown edge—Waiting for My Man, for instance—but very judiciously interpolated. More than a few listeners worshipping that classic sound are going to be very happy with its treatments here. I hope Sade is satisfied with her richly deserved status as Queen of Mellow because Douye's about to step into her sequins and high heels, in order that we who must have bliss be ever and uninterruptedly sated.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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