[17 April 2008]
Although not as initially engaging as his contemporaries, bassist/soul singer Paul Randolph proves on Lonely Eden that you don’t need to be “neo” to leave a mark in the soul world. The Detroit artist’s 58-minute sophomore album is chock full of funk and soul while his vocals are undeniably smooth and sincere. Perhaps the most difficult hump to overcome with being a soul artist is not falling into the realm of sounding generic. Luckily for Randolph, that never happens. And he succeeds in his efforts of not pigeonholing his songwriting to a certain style.
The somber and introspective “Broken (AKA Warnings)” stands up perfectly next to the song-for-the-people “Golden Days”. Even his braggadocio-track, “Leanin’”, doesn’t sound forced or over-the-top. Much of Randolph’s appeal is in his ability to layer his rich vocals over lush production as vibrant as the album’s namesake. But that’s not to say it’s over-produced. Lonely Eden only falls short on a few dragging tracks that make the album more of a grower than an addictive first listen. That being written, you’ll most likely agree with Stevie Wonder, who sang Randolph’s praises, about the magic of this record.