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In the 1990s, R&B was full of post-new jack swing male vocal groups that combined hip-hop and classic soul influences. Portrait was part of that trend; on the vocal quartet's self-titled debut album of 1992, one can hear the parallels between Portrait and groups like Boyz II Men, the Real Seduction, Yours Truly, and K-Ci & JoJo. But Portrait had an energy of its own -- while this CD is relevant to urban contemporary and neo-soul, it's also relevant to dance music. From a neo-soul perspective, smooth slow jams like "Precious Moments" and "On and On" have a lot to offer; these tunes are an extension of the sort of slow jams that the Isley Brothers and the Whispers were famous for in the 1970s and 1980s. Meanwhile, some of the more up-tempo selections have a lot of club appeal (as opposed to strictly urban radio appeal). "Down Wit Dat" and "Honey Dip" also bring to mind the Whispers -- only this time, the listener is thinking of the Whispers' up-tempo hits ("Rock Steady," "It's a Love Thing," "And the Beat Goes On") instead of its ballads and slow jams. "Feelings" and "Commitment," meanwhile, border on house music -- they're extremely danceable numbers that have the sort of soul/dance energy you might have expected from Ten City in the late '80s and early '90s. For that matter, one can hear the parallels between these selections and the type of disco-soul that Double Exposure's fans cherished during the disco era. This is, more often than not, an impressive debut -- one that has a lot to offer neo-soul fans but isn't oblivious to club tastes either.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 5:24
2 4:03
3 4:20
5 0:53
6 5:33
7 4:42
8 4:44
9 0:08
10 4:57
11 3:59
12 5:21
13 4:59
14 5:31
15 1:46
16 5:21
blue highlight denotes track pick