Bernard Oattes

Soul Detective

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With a few notable exceptions like Bobby Caldwell and Matt Bianco, there just aren't enough solid male singers perfectly suited for the smooth New Adult Contemporary format. If this smashing sophomore disc from Oattes is any indication, he may just be the superstar the genre has been waiting for. Nearly flawness in production and pop song craft, this seductive disc is one of those rare near-masterpieces that has everything going for it-a crisp vocalist who neither overpowers nor understates, hooks that sink in after one listen, inventive brass tinged instrumentation, and interesting takes on stylistic diversity. While Oattes comes across most honestly on a straightforward love ballad like "Rebel Heart" or "Always You," his attempts at social and historical perspective (the Stingesque "Lost on Earth," featuring Peter White, "Comet Skies") is admirable. Oattes also infuses elements of real jazz, pure soul and even a touch of tropical whimsy. Also unique are the two tracks where he forgoes his smooth warbling and talk-sings like he did on White's Promenade. His lyrics are those of a hopeless romantic, and thus may be perceived by some cynics. But his musical heart is firmly in the right place, so why find fault with optimism?

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