Everyone is coming back to the recording studio lately. It's as if there is some cosmic message floating around, begging everyone to get back in the studio and cut another album.
After a full ten year hiatus, Anita Baker has returned to us on Blue Note Records with My Everything. But before I begin with her new record, let me take you back.
In 1983, a sleeper of an album slipped onto the record shelves. 'The Songstress' was Anita's first effort in the studio. It was a sign that the times were changing, but it didn't do well. The track 'Squeeze Me' still had disco overtones, and some of it sounded overproduced. Yet Elektra knew they had someone strong in their possession.
And in one of the more powerful releases the music industry had ever seen, 1986 brought us eight brilliant songs on Rapture. Truly bridging the old school with the new, Anita Baker's Grammy Award winning performance on 'Rapture' forged the way for female R&B vocalists across the board. Her style became what some people now call the 'quiet storm' sound. Rapture also had the power to cross radio and racial boundaries. You could hear tracks like 'Same Ole Love' and 'Sweet Love' on many radio stations and at college parties across the nation. There wasn't a single dance party or wedding that year (and still to this day) that failed to play 'Caught Up in the Rapture'.
Up until now, her final work had been Rhythm of Love, a more embellished performance that pushed her voice to its ends. Full of emotion and vocal riffs, Rhythm of Love was a brilliant follow-up to Rapture. But it left us all wanting more.
In a celebration of her life, her power to love, and the kind of joyful music that can only come from deep inside the heart, My Everything is a glorious return for Anita Baker.
'You're My Everything' opens the album with her signature smoky vocals. Her balladeer style continues throughout this group of love songs. She is a more confident person, stronger in who she is and what she feels. Babyface joins her in a duet on 'Like You Used To Do', a wonderfully creative vocal match.
Near the close of the album is an extended ending to 'You're My Everything' complete with her flawless scatting. I played this one several times in a row just to hear her work her voice into a beautiful frenzy. Can't wait to see that track performed live.
The most gospel infused song on the album, 'I Can't Sleep', is my natural favorite. I almost had to pull out my blue choir robe and reversable golden stole just so I could clap along and sing a song of praise. You can almost hear the Amen at the end of the song.
Praisin' with ya'll in 4/4,