R&B has always been a dominant element in Boney James' music. In his early days as a sideman, the saxophonist played with the likes of Morris Day and the Isley Brothers, and the strong influence of artists such as Grover Washington Jr. is unmistakable in his sound. Not surprisingly, James sounds very comfortable on his latest album, Ride (Warner Bros. 2-48004 48:46), a solid outing wherein those urban roots are amply in evidence.
Ride's standout track is the infectious "See What I'm Sayin'?," which finds James blowing some gritty, raw funk. It's a collaboration with eminent bassist Marcus Miller, a partnership that James should consider repeating on future albums. Elsewhere James trades off with steel-pan star Andy Narell on the rousing "This Is the Life." James is famous for his seductive sound, and Ride doesn't skimp on temperature-raisers such as the moody ballad "So Beautiful" and the slow-burn "Heaven," featuring singer Trina Broussard. That song and Ride's two other vocal numbers, "Something Inside," co-written by acclaimed R&B singer-songwriter Angie Stone and sung by Dave Hollister, and the title track, which features James' labelmate Jaheim, should garner James plenty of attention from urban AC radio.
Co-produced by James and his longtime producer Paul Brown, Ride is sure to appeal to the legions of fans who have helped James' last three albums achieve gold status.