In a time when marketing concerns all too often attempt to restrain or pigeonhole the true spirit of recording artists, Mark Lambert made the bold choice to incorporate all of his musical passions and influences into his Chartmaker debut More Than Friends. Working as a sideman alongside such diverse performers as Bob James, Astrud Gilberto, and Meat Loaf, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist cultivated his great love for soulful jazz, Brazilian music, and pop/rock. Switching between electric and acoustic guitar, instrumentals and vocals, Lambert artfully blends elements of all three into an amazing expression of his person and artistry." Helping Lambert create these textures is an ensemble which reflects the kind of stylistic diversity that characterizes the artist himself: keyboardist Vana Gierig (who has worked with Regina Carter, Warren Hill, Angela Bofill, and Special EFX); sax/flutist Carol Chaikin (a smooth jazz artist in her own right); bassist Gregory Jones (Jon Lucien, Ray Anderson, the Chieftains); drummer Kim Plainfield (Tania Maria, the Pointer Sisters, and Kenny Rankin); and versatile N.Y.C. percussionist Charles Descarfino. More Than Friends begins with the funky, soulful vocal "Little Bit of Love," which uses brass flourishes to emphasize its optimistic points about love in its opening stages. The title track which follows is a laid-back, dreamy ballad in which Lambert chronicles the end of a relationship through disillusion; he complements his silky vocal with a crisp electric guitar jazz solo. After "Reunion," a feisty blues-rock instrumental which allows Lambert to strut his electric guitar chops, he moves into a sweetly melancholy vibe on the wistful vocal "I Just Can't Say Goodbye." He delves into his rich love for Brazilian music on the breezy, samba-flavored "If You Would Stay," where he makes a passionate plea for love as Chaikin's flute harmonizes in the background. The warm, intimate "Goodnight Kiss" and spirited funk of "Island Sail" allow Lambert to reveal the unique contrast between his acoustic and electric playing, respectively, while the graceful vocal track "Austin Lullabye" finds him detailing his fears about falling in love.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran