British soulster Omar's third album is a distinctive delight and a rare element. He collaborates on several tracks, with David Frank, the System (ESP), Christina Aguilera, and 98 Degrees. Beginning with the oh-too-short "My Baby Says," the album flows into the samba-flavored "I'm Still Standing." "Saturday" has sinewy synth riffs that recall Parliament-Funkadelic's Bernie Worrell. "Keep Steppin'" was inspired by Chicago's step dance movement, and with a remix it could be huge. Underscoring the British respect and appreciation of American R&B and soul music, Omar works with two legends from this genre. "Outside" is culled from an unfinished multi-track tape made in the '70s found in Lamont Dozier's basement. It's smooth soul featuring vintage performances by Ray Parker, Jr., Sonny Burke, Jay Graydon, and Sonny Burke. Another Motown alumni, Leon Ware co-writes, contributes backing vocals, and keyboards on the soft pumping "Can't Get Nowhere." The dusky, jazzy "Little Boy" has soft brushes and double bass. Omar's eclectic leanings reminds how much range, personality, and distinctiveness you'll find on pop albums of the past.
For Pleasure Review
by Ed Hogan