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George Benson: Irreplaceable

Showing there are still many other dimensions to his Grammy-winning and chart-topping talents, guitarist and singer George Benson dives back into R&B and pop crooning on Irreplaceable, and his vocals are luscious and impressive.

The music differs greatly from his well-known material, including the landmark Breezin’ (1976), with just an occasional hint of contemporary jazz mixed in. It’s less smooth jazz-fusion and more straight R&B pop. Benson’s well-recognized signature guitar licks are featured on “Black Rose” and “Stairway to Love,” which is also richly enhanced by Gregoire Maret’s stellar harmonica work. “Missing You,” adorned with tantalizing guitar playing, is Benson’s instrumental highpoint on the CD, while “Strings of Love” features a beautiful combination of his singing and the vocal chants of Richard Bona.

On the other hand, those who love pop or R&B styled silky-smooth vocals with minute dabs of contemporary jazz should find the first four tracks enthralling and extremely enjoyable. Benson’s singing-stylishly enhanced by the contributions of Lisa Fischer, Chyna and others-are thickly layered on all of these songs. Without a doubt, “Irreplaceable” presents Benson in a very different light, sounding similar to Boys II Men, Joe or even Justin Timberlake.

Irreplaceable is mainly not for the guitarist/singer’s longtime fans but rather a younger R&B- or pop-oriented audience.

Originally Published