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2:35 PM
  2:35 PM  
  Recommended if you like:
- Angie Stone
- K-Ci & JoJo
- Maxwell
- Marc Dorsey
- Bobby Womack
Calvin Richardson '2:35 PM' [Hollywood Records]

When I listened to "2:35 PM" for the first time I found myself picturing an athlete who, in a 400m race, starts like grease lightning and collapses within sight of the finishing line. The album begins with "Keep On Pushin'" which borrows its opening riff from Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come", heavily sampled by contemporary soul artists. But a smile may appear on your face when you realize the line "I was born by the river" becomes "Girl I've lied but please forgive me" and the song has its’ own identity, even though it keeps the same Sam Cooke's and Bobby Womack's style. The following track, "Falling Out" produced by Raphael Saadiq, follows the same plan and turns out to be one of the disc's best tracks. But Calvin, who has a voice like Bobby Womack, doesn't only copy the soul music of the '60s and '70s, he writes and produces most tracks in his sophomore album adding new elements and creating sophisticated sounds. His effort to produce quality music is rewarded because his talented style, filled with deep emotion and passion, is undoubtedly real soul music. Calvin Richardson isn’t only concerned with taking care of his body but he also wants to narrate everyday real life situations with his sexy voice. The messages he wants to convey evolve throughout the disc following the natural evolution of a man's life: crumbling relationships are replaced over time by more stable new partnerships. His friendship with K-Ci & JoJo has markedly influenced his vocals and a couple of songs sound just like Hailey brothers' releases. Calvin Richardson wants to go behind the Neo-Soul movement but he also follows the path created by artists like D'Angelo and Musiq: he accompanies hip-hop beats with smooth arrangements, keeping the same relaxed mood that characterizes the whole album. The collaboration with Slum Village, "You Got Me High" isn't an isolated piece of hip-hop because it's preceded and followed by tracks with same rhythm. The funky "Iwansumo" illustrates Richardson's ability to adapt to different styles of black music but next time 'I want some more' from this because it's too disjointed. The songs worth pressing the skip button for are two productions from the hitmakers Underdogs and Mike City, which are too commercial, but also "I've Got To Move" and "Your Love Is" are disappointments, lacking originality or skill. Maybe the track I prefer is the well-known "More Than A Woman", written and produced by The Untouchables Eddie F and Darren Lighty, two of my favourite producers. Calvin claims this song and its jazzy sounds aren’t affected by the absence of Angie Stone. By the way I definitely recommend this disc. I hope his style, which is very friendly to urban and old-school radio, helps bring soul music back into the mainstream, and hopefully Calvin won't wait until he has another son before releasing his next album!

Claudio Balestrino [Just Soul]

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