Kindred the Family Soul

A Couple Friends

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    8
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Almost three years passed between the release of Love Has No Recession and this, the fifth album from Aja Graydon and Fatin Dantzler. The songwriting and singing couple, joined by longtime colleagues like Vidal Davis, Andre Harris, Steve McKie, James Poyser, Adam Blackstone, and Anthony Bell, nonetheless stick to their tried-and-true approach. Yet another strong set of traditional-minded R&B relatable to adults, it's significantly different from the overloaded Love Has No Recession due to its near absence of guest vocal appearances. Graydon and Dantzler demonstrate that they have no trouble carrying an album on their own and have no shortage of strong material beaming with positivity, even when they're referencing hardships. Several songs are among the duo's best work, including the disco-soul throwback "Never Loved You More," seemingly a Gamble-Huff tribute, and equally romantic and reflective numbers like "Call Me Crazy," "Look at What We Made," and "Drop the Bomb" -- the last of which is a breezy and kicked-back original, not a Trouble Funk cover. Valerie Simpson drops in to play prominent piano on the title song, and there's one instance where the duo cede control of the vocal booth, though it's more like delegation. On "Momma Said Clean Up," the Dantzler children and Vidal Davis' son, all as amped as Crime Mob, get in on the action: "We go hard on these dishes like my momma told me to!"

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