Boney James: Body Language

With a 22-piece orchestra in tow, popular R&B/soul saxophonist Boney James promises departure from his regular synthesized mode on Body Language (Warner Bros. 9 47283-2; 42:20). To a certain extent, the promise is fulfilled with the pumping retro-’70s romp “Love Fest” boasting an orchestral intro and Latin-tinged ornaments, and the lovely “Into the Blue,” which utilizes both the live strings and some excellent piano work from frequent collaborator David Torkanowsky to build a feeling of flight. With that said, fans will be happy to know that the familiar James elements are also present-“Are You Ready?” is a bland atmosphere track highlighted only by James’ willowy soprano line, and the slickly produced “I’ll Always Love You,” though decent for its type, is essentially a tingly pop R&B dripper featuring the band Shai. More promise lies in a dark blue read of Janet Jackson’s “I Get Lonely,” which finds James riffing and musing in an electric old-soul mode.