Rainbow Man

Jeff Bates

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Rainbow Man Review

by Mark Deming

I have no idea if Nashville is looking for a Barry White to call their own, but judging from his debut album, it seems as if Jeff Bates wants to be the new multi-racial love man of country music. Rainbow Man features a five-song stretch of romantic tunes in which Bates does his best to put some vocal moves on the lady in his life; and he even sinks into a deep-voiced spoken-word routine on "Long, Slow Kisses" in which he explains the details of the seduction ritual he has planned for the evening (Mr. Love Unlimited himself would probably approve). As background music for that "special night" at home, at very least this album beats Toby Keith's body of work; and while songs like "My Inlaws Are Outlaws" and "Country Enough" are by-the-numbers modern country radio fodder, at least "Rainbow Man" (in which he explains and celebrates his diverse ethnic heritage) and "My Mississippi" boast a personal touch that puts Bates a notch or so above most of his competition. While the slick-as-Teflon production and Bates' overly wavering voice don't flatter this material, at least on Rainbow Man Jeff Bates shoots for something slightly to the left of Nashville's radar, a direction he'll hopefully pursue with more vigor on his second album.

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