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July/August 2001

Wayman Tisdale
Face To Face
Atlantic Records

Former NBA star and bassist Wayman Tisdale seems to play second-string to big, sloppy urban arrangements for the bulk of Face to Face, letting his considerable talents warm the bench. Though Atlantic's promotional materials promise an "old school" R&B album, what's offered are modern urban contrivances including layers of goofy, synthesized horns and percussions ("Loveplay"), annoying synthesized voices ("When I Opened Up My Eyes," where the synth voice is even more grating than on Cher's hit "Believe" because of the slow, heavy-breathing pace) and breathy, incomprehensible vocals ("If I Ever," ruining an otherwise nice gospel-tinged arrangement). The album does have promising moments though, like the hybrid "Brazilia," on which Tisdale works a low hook against change-up percussion and acoustic accents, and the gently strummed "Face to Face," featuring Tisdale's capable, raspy vocal. "Can't Hide Love" pays homage to Earth, Wind & Fire with its big, wind-up hits, and finds the bassist plucking and running on the melody. Tisdale clearly comes across strongest when featured in wide-open settings; keeping him in the starting lineup would be a wise coach's decision.

Originally published in July/August 2001
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