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Soul - Released October 25, 2019 | Shanachie

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R&B - Released January 1, 2003 | Hollywood Records

It's doubtful that R&B will ever have another era as creatively rich as the '60s or '70s. There's too much working against it -- at least in the United States. Between the rigid, extremely tight formats of urban radio and the fact that major labels are so quick to drop artists before they have a chance to develop, modern R&B is bound to have an abundance of artists who go out of their way to be as generic as possible. That said, the situation is far from hopeless -- if it were, major talents like Alicia Keys, India.Arie, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, and Rahsaan Patterson wouldn't have broken through. Like those singers, Calvin Richardson has a neo-soul perspective that owes something to classic soul as well as urban contemporary and hip-hop. 2:35 PM, Richardson's second solo album, isn't in a class with Patterson or D'Angelo's best releases; actually, it's mildly uneven and inconsistent. However, the CD's best tracks demonstrate that Richardson is capable of excellence when he puts his mind to it. The romantic slow jams on 2:35 PM fall into two main categories: radio-oriented tunes that have a strong Jodeci/K-Ci & JoJo influence (with some R. Kelly-ish moves here and there), and material that is more old-school in its approach. The album gets off to an impressive start with "Keep on Pushin'," which recalls classic soulsters like Sam Cooke and Bobby Womack -- and Richardson is equally convincing on "Falling Out," "I Wansumo," and "More Than a Woman" (not to be confused with the Bee Gees/Tavares hit of the late '70s). Unfortunately, 2:35 PM also has its share of material that is competent without being terribly memorable, but when Richardson does hit the mark, it is obvious that the R&B world should continue to keep an eye on the North Carolina native. ~ Alex Henderson

R&B - Released August 25, 2009 | Shanachie

Since departing from the urban R&B group Undacova in the late '90s, Calvin Richardson has recorded infrequently. While his 1999 debut nu-soul set, Country Boy, was a knockout, it was critically underappreciated. He followed this in 2003 with another fine album, 2:35 P.M., and When Love Comes in 2008. That said, his 2009 offering, Facts of Life: The Soul of Bobby Womack, a full-length tribute to one of his primary influences, is a wildly ambitious but logical step. The dangers in doing a tribute to a legendary artist, especially Womack, one of soul music’s most storied and colorful legends as both a singer and songwriter, is a daunting task. But Richardson’s and Womack’s voices are very similar, though the latter’s is not as rough as the former’s and has more gospel in it, which works very well in adding to most of these songs. Rather than radically re-interpret Womack's songs, Richardson sticks close to the original arrangements, and as a result, is able to use his own rather unique vocal phrasing to set his versions apart. This works best on tracks such as “Hairy Hippie,” the beautiful ballad Womack wrote for his brother that is equal parts Memphis and Nashville. Richardson gets to the heart of Womack’s lyric and sings it like a tribute, and exponentially so -- the songwriter for his brother, the younger singer for his hero, thereby expanding the song’s meaning. Another high point is the duet with Ann Nesby on “Love Has Finally Come at Last,” where he allows his gospel roots to shine. “Woman Got to Have It,” is a little further from Womack’s version. The nu-soul groove is everywhere apparent, and Richardson revels in it, having a direct feel for the link between past and present. The strangest, most elliptical moment here is “Across 110th Street.” Richardson doesn’t have Womack’s grit, it comes off sounding more bewildered, confused, and disillusioned than the deep, declamatory statement of day-to-day life on the streets that Womack gave us. In all, Richardson pulls this set off. It’s a fitting paean to Womack, but also a sign of his own maturity as a vocalist who is in full possession of his gifts. ~ Thom Jurek

R&B - Released August 31, 2010 | Shanachie

Modern day Georgia soul man Calvin "The Soul Prince" Richardson scored two Grammy nominations for his tribute album Facts of Life: The Soul of Bobby Womack, and as co-composer with Babyface on Charlie Wilson's "There Goes My Baby," from 2009, he also won ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year Award. These achievements have raised his profile beyond the Southern region (somewhat). America's Most Wanted, his fifth album, co-produced with Robert Perry (of the Revelations fame) should do so as well. The pre-release single "You're So Amazing" did reasonably well at national radio, garnering interest in the full-length. There are some fine tracks here that move beyond Richardson's trademarked, well-traveled Southern soul revivalism. Some of the more urban AC offerings here are oriented for the summer dancefloor season: "Feels Like We Sexin'" is a breezy stepper that uses grooves from contemporary jazz and Caribbean hand percussion. The title track opener is a logical follow-up single with its love-song groove, tasty B-3, and '70s guitar sound that push Richardson's flowing, quick-syllable vocal with just enough neo-soul to make it irresistible. His deep soul roots are displayed on "Come Over" and "Adore You." They fit that bill like new fingers in an old glove with passionate vocals, tightly arranged harmonies, and a sleight-of-hand retro production. The former contains a killer string arrangement. Speaking of strings, "Reach Out," a duet with Nadia, walks the line between it and its 21st century neo-soul cousin. There are are a few missteps, however. The most glaring is "Thug Livin'," drenched in Dirty South stereotypes; "You Possess My Body" is a complete bore after two minutes -- it goes on for nearly four -- and "Paradise" has its beats, faux funk guitar, and synth horns in all the wrong places. In sum, the pluses on America's Most Wanted outnumber the minuses and Richardson's profile should rise as a result. ~ Thom Jurek

R&B - Released May 26, 2008 | Shanachie


Soul - Released September 30, 2014 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC


R&B - Released November 8, 2017 | Shanachie


R&B - Released January 16, 2018 | Shanachie


Soul - Released July 27, 2010 | Shanachie


R&B - Released January 1, 1999 | Universal Records

Calvin Richardson made a small impression as part of the short-lived mid-'90s urban group Undercover, whose smooth contemporary soul showed the influence of Jodeci, childhood friends of Richardson. So, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that Country Boy, his 1999 solo debut, also recalls Jodeci (it even features K-Ci on the opening track, "I'll Take Her"). To Richardson's credit, he does show signs of developing his own vocal style, even if the music either is too close to Jodeci for comfort, or a little too generic. That said, there are several very strong songs -- inlcuding the single "True Love," which features Chico DeBarge, and the Monifah duet "Close My Eyes" -- that keep Country Boy enjoyable, even when it sounds a little samey. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Soul - Released September 11, 2012 | Numo Records


Soul - Released August 30, 2019 | Shanachie


R&B - Released July 12, 2017 | Shanachie


R&B - Released July 27, 2010 | Shanachie