Tony Rich made quite a splash with his debut album, Words. Like his peers D'Angelo and Maxwell, Rich decided to buck slick contemporary conventions in urban R&B, adhering to the sophisticated styles pioneered by Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye. Not only was Words a welcome change of pace in a genre that had become too predictable, but it revealed a truly gifted singer-songwriter. Rich's second album, Birdseye, proves that the first was no fluke. Branching out from his stylish acoustic love ballads, Rich expands his musical vocabulary by touching on lite-funk, reggae flourishes, pop and soul. Nevertheless, Birdseye remains a remarkably romantic record, one of the rare albums whose seduction feels genuine, not prepackaged. It's not only Rich's smooth, soulful voice -- it's a combination of his singing, his clean, inviting arrangements, skilled musicianship (he plays every instrument, apart from some guest guitar solos from Eric Clapton) and sturdy, memorable songwriting that makes Birdseye such a delight.
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AllMusic Review by Leo Stanley