Pam & Dodi

Pam & Dodi

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Back in R&B's golden era -- the '50s, '60s, and '70s -- gospel was arguably the R in R&B. R&B, like jazz and rock, thrived on blues feeling, but it also owed a lot to the music of the African-American church. The great soulsters of those decades often started out in church choirs, and they maintained their gospel influence when they went secular. In the 21st century, African-American gospel continues to heavily influence R&B. Take Pam & Dodi, for example. A sleek urban contemporary effort with major soul leanings, this self-titled debut album underscores the female duo's gospel roots. The lyrics, for the most part, are secular, although Pam & Dodi do address spiritual concerns on some of the material. They sing about romantic love ("It's Over Now") as well as spirituality ("Forgive Me," "There All the Time"), but while Christianity is an influence, they don't beat listeners over the head with Christian doctrine -- therefore, those who are happily committed to Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism won't feel like Pam & Dodi are trying to coerce them into converting to Christianity. Although the production is high-tech and hip-hop-influenced, Pam & Dodi don't do any rapping on this 2002 release -- and lovers of classic soul will have no problem pinpointing their baby boomer influences. The Detroit women acknowledge '90s favorites like Mary J. Blige and they also show a strong awareness of Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, and Chaka Khan. Much of the time, Pam & Dodi favor a healthy blend of sweetness and grit -- and in that sense they recall the Emotions and Deniece Williams. Some of the songs on this CD are excellent and some are merely decent. But all things considered, Pam & Dodi is a promising debut that paints an attractive picture of the Motor City duo.

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