Ray Greene / Ray Greene / Ray Greene / Michael Nickolas

We Got By

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Albums that have just vocals and acoustic guitar run the risk of sounding just plain hokey. There's the "squeak" that an acoustic guitar typically gives off which can get in the way of the vocals. There are occasional squeaks coming from Michael Nickolas, but they are overcome with an out-of-the-ordinary pure sound which blends perfectly with the expressive voice of Ray Greene. Both of these New England-based musicians are experienced performers. Greene has worked with the likes of Rick James and Aretha Franklin and also worked in West Side Story. Nickolas, with Greene, formed the R&B band Universal Language and has recorded reggae with Michael Rose. Their 17-plus years of collaboration come to fruition in this album of standards and material from other music genres. Greene sings with great expression in a flexible, tender vocal style. Being accompanied by just acoustic guitar is one short step from going a cappella, making staying on pitch essential to avoid disaster. Greene accomplishes this task effortlessly. His vocal eloquence and versatility are apparent as he runs the gamut of "Here's That Rainy Day" through Stevie Nicks' "Landslide" to Bob Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door," landing upright with Al Jarreau's "We Got By." So the listener is treated to a menu of some traditional and contemporary pop material, some urban blues, some R&B, and some folk. This is the kind of album that's perfect for a quiet evening of relaxation and comfort. Greene's vocal warmth and romanticism when married to Nickolas' guitar resonance is the kind of stuff that helps whisk the woes and worries of the day away. Recommended.

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