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July/August 2006

Phil Perry
Classic Love Songs
Shanachie

Phil Perry, a veteran soul singer and frequent contributor in the smooth jazz world, has classic tenor and falsetto vocals. His solo projects are rare, but they have for the most part been solid entries in the quiet storm camp. But really, with all the competition from young and hip neo-soul singers out there, what chance does Perry have with his original material? Not much.

So Perry gets a big thumbs up for tapping into the nostalgic wave for iconic soul songs or, in his case, Classic Love Songs. He was born for this CD, which is a winner from beginning to end, and he picks songs that perfectly complement his vocal chops. It’s hard to top Marvin Gaye, but Perry hits the mark on “I Want You.” And Randy Bowland’s high-pitched guitar solo seems about right. More familiar nuggets abound, from a stripped-down version of the Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around” and the Temptations’ “Just My Imagination” to Lionel Richie’s “Hello” and the Stylistics’ “You Make Me Feel Brand New.” Perry’s spoken-word intro and impossibly high register on the Chi-Lites’ “Have You Seen Her?” are just about musical perfection.

Although these songs are way past well-worn, Perry resurrects them with an amazing voice and fresh, modern grooves provided for the most part by Chris “Big Dog” Davis.

Originally published in July/August 2006
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