Poor Madonna. Booed on the red carpet at the premiere of her hubby's film 'Revolver'. Apparently the queen of attitude decided it was better just to strike a pose and not sign autographs. Funny, the star of the film Jason Statham spent more than an hour signing his name on everything. Never mind that Madge was in a black Cavalli tux dress ( ick ) with matching black satin arm sling ( double ick ) . She felt the need to poo poo on her fans with an album just around the corner. Interesting.
Do you remember the duo Groove Theory? They had a few stellar hits, the biggest of which was 'Tell Me' which went Gold right away. It's a sultry tune that combined the beats of member Bryce Wilson with the glorious sensual voice of Amel Larrieux. They dropped a few more songs that made their way into the airwaves, but always with a subdued tone and lots of slow-jam beats.
Amel broke away from Groove Theory in 1996 and did an album with some former members of Sade's band and some very soon to be famous names. It was called 'Sweetback' and it's one of those hidden gems I love to uncover for all of you R&B fans. Rapper Bahamadia does spoken word on the album. Leroy Osbourne sings a lot and does a brilliant Bill Withers tune. Amel, of course, sings with her heart on her sleeve. And Maxwell, in his debut performance on a track called 'Softly Softly' will make your toes curl. It's that sexy. If you don't own 'Sweetback', you might consider picking up this good piece of R&B history.
Back to Amel. After 'Sweetback' she finally signed to Epic and opened the new millennium with her first solo album in early 2000 called 'Infinite Possibilities'. This album stopped my heart the first time I heard it. Her voice had definitely matured and the layering of the vocals was so complex, it was like a powerful blow to the head. It's truly a great album. The climax for me is the churchy track called 'Even If' that closes with Amel wailing ( in five part harmony ) on the line 'Even if my God says it's time to come home, I'll be happy going, knowing that I loved you.' Incredible.
'Bravebird', the latest album from Amel Larrieux, has been mistakenly overlooked. But as I said, I'm here to uncover the hidden gems for you. This time around the sounds are a little bit smoother, more of a quiet storm kind of sound. There's nothing overtly Pop sounding on any of the tracks, yet they each seem to capture the essence of R&B.
From the African influenced 'Congo' which sounds very Angelique Kidjo like, to the minimalist jazz track 'Your Eyes', Amel's voice floats here and there with its usual ease and grace. On the track 'Beyond', the strings and the piano start gently with her soft vocals, only to bloom into a beautiful neo-soul jam.
In my spotlight is a song that is quintessential Amel Larrieux. 'We Can Be New' is full of rich harmony and breathy vocals with a catchy hook and a beautiful story. '...And rest, in the earth, intertwined at the roots. Until we, have grown into one, me and you...' This song is what repeat buttons were made for.
With you in 4/4,