Ashford & Simpson

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After an extremely long time without a recording contract, the dynamic R&B husband-and-wife singing duo Ashford & Simpson decided to create their own label. This time out, they returned with a friend, the poet Maya Angelou. This is far from their best material, but the concept itself makes this an interesting project. Throughout these 11 urban adult contemporary songs Ashford & Simpson weave their luminous harmonies around Angelou's distinctively gravel-voiced recitations. The title track is the most inviting and boasts a delicious chorus on the subject of finding true love that will last. Angelou opens "Where We Come From," a reflection on childhood, with heartfelt nostalgia that works very well with the song's construction. However, sometimes the hip-hop influence later in the set becomes overwhelming on cuts like "This Time It's Real" and "Made for Me"; moreover, the poems don't always snugly fit the songs, but seem to have been inserted for no reason other than the idea that each song should have one. Still, Ashford & Simpson's following will savor this set in spite of its flaws.

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