Jon Lucien

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Rashida Review

by Jason Elias

Like Lucien's first effort (1970's I Am Now), Rashida didn't set the world on fire commercially speaking, but it solidified Lucien's status as a purveyor of intelligent romantic ballads and poetic if not gushy lyrics. Even to fans of jazz/R&B/pop, Lucien is a love or hate proposition, and Rashida was the effort that all but etched his persona in stone. Produced by Shep Meyers and Larry Rosen, Rashida, displays Lucien's soothing baritone and romantic nature with much aplomb. As the arranger here, he also shows an immense capacity for melodies. Although this album has a few clunky but danceable tracks, at this point Lucien was much better at handling the ballads. "Kuenda," a mellow, wordless vocal, sets the stage for the album's ambience; "Would You Believe in Me" benefits from Lucien's relentless poesy and a strong idiosyncratic horn arrangement. To a listener, Lucien no doubt might seem like an odd bird, (having a track called "Satan" doesn't help), but often when the arrangements and Lucien's vocals are in sync, he is simply one of the most focused and emotional balladeers to even step in front of a microphone. The title track has Lucien playing the tortured romantic with a cinematic, emotion-filled arrangement. On "Lady Love," the finest of his early songs, he sings, "Darling let me lay beside you, kiss my burning lips about you, for I'm a child of God." There's no two ways about it, you either like this stuff or you don't. "Love Everlasting" takes a more lighthearted approach with its breezy arrangement and sentiment. For his fans, Rashida is one of Lucien's best-loved albums and would be essential listening to those who are so inclined.

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