Bobby Womack

Safety Zone

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During the early '70s, Womack was one of the most prolific and talented artists. With albums like Communication and Lookin' For a Love Again, Womack quickly became one of the most prolific and talented singers in R&B/pop. This album's predecessor, I Don't Know What The World Is Coming To, did show a slight decline in his Muscle Shoals sound and his writing skills. Safety Zone finds Womack getting a sonic overhaul whether he needed it or not. Produced by David Rubinson who was behind the boards for everyone from the Pointer Sisters to Herbie Hancock, it creates a slick, up to the minute style that may be too "perfect" for Womack's core fans. The album's first track, "Everything's Going to Be Alright," meanders and sets the standard for this album's pursuit of style over substance. The two covers, "Something You Got" and "I Wish It Would It Rain," both feature eccentric arrangements but Womack's vocals seem facile around the edges. As an album like the Facts of Life scored on his honesty throughout, Safety Zone only has two instances that come within striking distance. "Trust in Me," a self-written gem first recorded by his friend Janis Joplin, has Womack's gritty and wry vocal finally breaking free from the Rubinson's glossy production and arranging style. "Daylight" is one of Womack's best tracks. As Womack sings "The real set don't get started/'Til every one else is in," you hear him conflicted, but not bothered enough to stop. For the track, Rubinson's offhanded grace made the song even stronger. The main problem with Safety Zone is that it doesn't possess the earthy and challenging productions of Womack's earlier '70s albums. He too often seems straitjacketed in an attempt to curb his eccentric nature. Fans of Womack no doubt will love the great tracks but will have little or no need for the rest.

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