[10 November 2008]
Apparently, these are troubled times for the smooth soul operator Ernie Halter. The Californian singer/songwriter’s third album Starting Over, another largely autobiographical collection of streamlined R&B with more than a touch of Stevie Wonder about it, was written during a year in which his marriage unraveled just as his first son was born. However, apart from opener “Different Lives”, a break-up song with an insistent shuffle groove, and the heartfelt regret of “Try” (plus three covers including the standout “Cyclone”, a reworking of a hip hop tune by Baby Bash), the six remaining tracks here leave the sad times behind and rather tell of a mystery love where shimmering organ, funky bass lines and acoustic guitar provide the backdrop for Halter’s stylish soulful ruminations on romantic obsession (“Blue Dress”), a long distance love affair (“Count the Days”, My Heart Is With You”) and a Calypso-esque slice of intoxicated “Crazy Love” where rules are broken. Gut-wrenchingly emotive this is not but a pleasant listen nonetheless.