David Lasley

Expectations of Love

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In the liner notes to this collection, Lasley gives thanks to just about every well-known backup singer in the business. As one of the better-known of these, he well knows that some of the world's best voices toil in general obscurity while sweetening our favorite pop recordings. A strong response to his small catalog of solo recordings and his website led him to compile these 13 songs, which are largely demos of songs he did for other writers or for songs he wrote himself to present to others. Sonically, most have that warm, simple '70s or early-'80s sound, though they're newer than that. All are hooky and certainly follow the classic formulas, and some (such as the title track) even soar with a fiery passion. But even on the blander tracks ("Good Magic"), it's Lasley's unique voice that shines through. For those unfamiliar with his style, imagine that the Stylistics lost their lead singer and wanted a long-haired blond guy to fill the position. The photo might look different, but the voice is the same, all high-toned, almost feminine soulful sweetness. If the smooth jazz format was interested in playing lesser-known vocalists, many of these songs would be perfect fits. Piano master David Benoit adds an impressive presence here, particularly with his graceful harmonies on "Love's Forever." While some of his material could use a hipper sound, Lasley's voice is one that deserves to be heard more in the forefront.

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