Juanita Dailey

Free

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Heavily influenced by such late-'70s/early-'80s R&B divas as Phyllis Hyman, Stephanie Mills, and Deniece Williams, young Juanita Dailey showed some potential on her sleek debut album, Free. The cast of players on this CD is exactly what one would have expected from an R&B session from 1979 or 1980 -- Norman Connors does much of the producing, and Dailey's backing includes such veterans as singers Jean Carn and Angela Bofill, Dexter Wansel (keyboards), and the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section. Although not outstanding, the results are enjoyable on covers of Deniece Williams' "Free," Maze's "Before I Let Go," the O'Jays' "Forever Mine," and Phyllis Hyman's "You Know How to Love Me." Dailey tends to overdo it with covers; she'd better off limiting herself to two covers per album and making original material a higher priority. But despite that shortcoming, this CD demonstrated that Dailey had a lot going for her. Her vocal range is impressive, and she's certainly capable of packing a punch emotionally. Not fantastic but definitely decent, Free indicated that R&B lovers would do well to follow Dailey's career closely and see how she would develop.

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