Top critical review
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It's lighthearted, charming, soulful, and funky !
on November 17, 2011
*** and 1/2 stars
The veteran saxophonist isn't known among fans and peers as "the King of Smooth Urban Jazz" for nothing.
Over the course of 17 albums, including over a decade's worth with Shanachie, he's been consistent and impeccable in delivering an infectious mix of romantic ballads and funky, thumping dance tunes.
This collection, yet another using the words "heart" or "love" in the title, is no exception. It's lighthearted, charming, soulful, and funky, mixing hard-to-resist originals with likable, vocal-laced covers of recent hits by R. Kelly ("Love Letter") and Jay-Z/Alicia Keys ("Empire State of Mind," featuring the soaring vocals of Waters' wife, singer Dana Pope).
Two of the most dynamic dance tracks, "The Groove's Alright" and "Running to Love", feature exciting multiple horn textures that would be right at home on a set by the Sax Pack, the trio featuring Jeff Kashiwa and Steve Cole that Waters has also recorded and toured with.
For the most part, Waters seems to be cool with just keeping his sweet urban flow rather than breaking any new ground. Tracks like midtempo opener "Heart Seeker" and the soaring dancefloor gems "Free Fall" and "Step to This" (featuring a spirited vocal invitation to join the step dancing movement) are fun and right in the pocket.
But a few others find Waters digging just a bit deeper emotionally.
He has a well-known propensity for song titles with the word "love," but the kind he's talking about on the passionate closing ballad "Double Two Love" is that of a doting dad to grown twin daughters.
The most prominent vocal track, "Am I a Fool", blends a classic '70s soul ballad vibe with the sweet harmonies found in '90s groups -- all led by Calvin Richardson's impassioned quandary about staying in a love affair even if he's not being treated so well.
On "This Heart of Mine", there's no question that Kim Waters' heart is in the right place -- where it's been for over two decades of solid hitmaking. J.Widran
Pack Is Back