R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

VOICES Notes and news on R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax releases

Yes, That Wayne Brady

08 SEP 08 ANNE FARNSWORTH

When I received neo-soul singer Wayne Brady's Peak debut, A Long Time Coming, my first thought was, "Poor guy's gonna be confused with the Emmy award-winning actor/comedian." Oops. This release actually is the work of said actor/comedian. But hold on, this is no ego-stroking vanity project.

With the help of producers, The Heavyweights, Brady has put together a collection of intimate and highly personal songs; chronicles of love, family and the ups and downs of relationships. The opener, "Ordinary," details the simple pleasures of everyday life. Backed by an acoustic guitar, the cut has the feel of a funkier Jack Johnson.

People of a certain generation will be nodding in recognition at "Back In The Day," with its nostalgic catalogue of '80s-era trends. The song intros with a breezy shoutout over a ting-a-linging R&B guitar that recalls the Archie Bell & The Drells hit, "Tighten Up." Its whimsy is guaranteed to bring a smile.

Brady includes a few covers as well, like Stevie Wonder's "All I Do" and the Sam Cooke classic, "A Change Is Gonna Come." But the standout is The Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love," for the complete alteration of the Fab Four's original hyperkinetic delivery. Slowed down to a pensive, acoustic ballad, the lyrics take on a more thoughtful, deeper meaning.

A Long Time Coming is a clever play on the Cooke lyric as well as Brady's struggle to find the time to focus on his music. Gee, could it be the television hosting, the acting roles, the stand-up touring and the Vegas headlining? Brady, you slacker! What took you so long?

The album hits stores Sept. 19. In the meantime, check out the featurette on the making of the album.