Many people will be able tell you where they were and what they were doing when they learned that John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Malcolm X, had been assassinated. However, being only 22, events comparable to such significant moments in history are not a feature of my memory. That said, one night I will never forget is the first time that I was introduced to the vocal stylings of one Frank McComb. Still at school, I listening to Kissfm London one Thursday night when I heard a track called “Only in My Dreams” (not included here). The vocal texture, the manner in which his voice was filled with emotion that seemed to come from deep within, the exceptional keyboard skills: the resemblance to Donny Hathaway was uncanny.
Some have even compared him to Stevie Wonder, but to these ears such an association is somewhat unflattering. A possibly sacrilegious comment, but I can honestly say, with hand heart, that Stevie’s albums have never consistently engaged me in this manner.
Every single song is beautifully crafted and dripping with quality. Entirely self-written (save for two covers) and co-produced by Branford Marsalis the music is impeccable throughout. Standout cuts? take your pick. Believe me when I say that you’ll just end up playing the whole album because you won’t be able to decide which track to put on.
Indeed, framed by two piano-led covers (“His Eye Is on the Sparrow” and “Some Other Time”) the sheer maturity of this debut release is nothing less than stunning. From the the mid-paced groover “(They’re Gonna Be) Looking at You,” the yearning 2-step “Gotta Find a Way”, the stunning “If This is Love,” the glorious “The Wedding Song,” right through to the moody “Listen to Your Heart,” you’ll be nothing less than captivated. However, as if that wasn’t enough interspersed between these you’ll also find a tale of emotional growth in the shape of “Future Love,” the recipe for a long-lasting relationship on the mid-tempo “Love Natural,” and a further mid-paced gem in the shape of “Wasting Your Time.”
It may only be April but it would not be premature of me to hail this as the Soul/Jazz album of the year, even taking account of D’Angelo’s excellent Voodoo. From start to finish it is a work of art that never falters once. Despite not having the same socio-political implications as those events mentioned previously, I will never forget the first time that I heard Frank McComb. Needless to say, neither will you.
// Notes from the Road
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