Jesse Powell


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Jesse Powell's third album, JP, finds the Gary, IN, native continuing to improve and grow. It isn't that JP is a departure from his two previous albums, Jesse Powell (1995) and 'Bout It (1998) -- Powell's specialty is still romantic urban contemporary, and even though a few of the tunes are mildly funky, ballads and slow jams are what ultimately define JP. The thing that makes JP a step forward for the neo-soulster is the quality of the writing; JP falls short of remarkable, but romantic items like "Take My Breath Away" (not to be confused with Berlin's 1986 smash), "If I," and the seductive "Go Upstairs" are definitely solid. The album's best track, however, is an inspired remake of the haunting One Way/Al Hudson ballad "Something in the Past." Sadly, urban contemporary is full of singers (both male and female) who get over on attitude or image alone but are sorely lacking when it comes to chops, substance, and vocal range -- Powell, however, has genuine talent. The Midwesterner has an impressive range (four octaves, to be exact), and his attractive phrasing sometimes reminds you of former Klique vocalist Howard Huntsberry (who was heavily influenced by Jackie Wilson). Again, JP isn't a masterpiece, but it's an enjoyable step forward for Powell.

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