Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Elliott Yamin

The discs released by the 5th season American Idol contestants have been a mixed bag thus far: Taylor Hicks’ eponymous CD was okay but not especially remarkable and (despite a favorable initial reaction on my part) Katherine McPhee’s collection didn’t hold up on repeated listenings; Chris Daughtry’s record, on the other hand, does easily bear up to repeated plays.

And then there’s the scrappy R&B crooner Elliott Yamin. Elliott Yamin sounds like a lost soul album (complete with tasty mid-tempo grooves, smartly arranged backing vocals, and a prominent role for the keyboards) from the 70’s…from the hitmaking heydays of Yamin’s idols Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway…and that’s, for the most part, a very fine thing.

Yamin is in fine, confident voice throughout this disc and the best tracks…the percolating opener “Movin’ On”, the hopeful “Find a Way” (which slyly quotes Stevie Wonder’s “Heaven Help Us All”), the shimmering self-affirmation/pledge of devotion “I’m the Man”, the dance floor ready “Alright” (complete with the kind of rhythmic handclaps that would make Quincy Jones proud)…soar and delight.

Even on the songs that are lyrically awkward…and there are a few here (some over-written, trying to cram too many lyrics in; some under-written, with goopy sentiments that could have used rewrites)…Yamin works like a champ to try to sell them; he doesn’t always succeed but the sincere effort is definitely appreciated.

The closer, the oft-covered “A Song for You”, features just Yamin’s yearning vocal and a piano and it’s an affecting and undeniably soulful finish to the record.

Elliott Yamin is not a perfect CD…but there’s enough to the good here to make it a fine R&B album that hints at even greater things to come from the irrepressible Mr. Yamin.

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More MKW blogstuff: Bread & Roses

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