Al Jarreau

R&B Soul

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Pop-jazz vocalist Al Jarreau tries his hand at singing soul and R&B classics on this one from Direct Source. The first two cuts are credible if not revelatory reads of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lean on Me." The latter is much grittier and more believable. He also does fine readings of "Let's Stay Together" and "You Ought to Be with Me," on which he does his best Sam Cooke. Through it all though, it's still Jarreau; his phrasing is that of a jazz singer approaching this material, and he brings something new and different to the shades of the songs he interprets. There's nothing wrong with this, of course. It's simply that Jarreau seems to actually hear these songs a bit differently and brings his unique character to each and every one. It's too bad this didn't get released on a major as it's one of the finer things in his catalog.

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