Al Olive – Dream – Review

2 12 2010

Al Olive’s Dream is a romantic, soulful journey imbued with the timeless qualities soul fans associate with Luther at the height of his powers. Much has been said about Al’s similarity to Mr Vandross and, while it would be churlish not to acknowledge the influence the great man has had on Al’s artistic development, Dream, with its adherence to old-school musical values, is undoubtedly not a simple facsimile of past classics; it’s a collection of timeless soul that stands out from the crowd by the virtue of its honesty, simplicity and straight-forward romanticism, not to mention a soul voice that deserves to be talked about in the same breath as heroes such as Ron Isley, Howard Hewitt, Will Downing and, of course, Luther Vandross.

The album kicks off with the delightful Slow Down, one of 2010’s most surprising soul cuts. Coming off like a cross between My Sensitivity and Any Love, Al effortlessly croons his way through a track that celebrates the nervousness that accompanies the first flush of attraction. Al is that rare breed of soul singer able to incorporate sensitivity, masculinity and romance into a coherent and believable performance. Dream may be Al’s first solo album, but it draws on fifteen years professional singing experience to deliver a mature collection for true soul lovers.

A couple of years in the making, Dream embodies the ‘timeless soul’ beloved of SoulCuts; music from the soul that refuses to pander to fashion or trends. Without a single duff track, Dream is a succession of highlights ripe for the soul connoisseur. As an independent release, it stands shoulder-to-shoulder, if not higher than, any major-label soul album of the past few years. The songwriting is consistently strong with thoughtful and mature lyrics aligned to a sense of melody that recalls Luther at the height of his powers. Furthermore, there’s a subtlety (both musically and vocally) that runs throughout the album, as evidenced on tracks such as the beautifully nuanced There For You and the stunning Fall In Love Again, that causes the album to get under the listener’s skin. Each and every listen unravels further pleasures, the lack of gimmickry affording the album much greater depth than the standard 2010 soul/R&B album.

Each cut on Dream is provided ample room to breath by producer Frank Hames. The restrained instrumentation and sympathetic arrangements serve as the perfect backdrop to Al’s captivating vocals. The pedigree of the project is further underlined by the joyous, jazzy tune, Easy Smile, co-written with David Ritz, Marvin Gaye’s biographer and the co-writer of Sexual Healing. But, Dream is an album that doesn’t rely on big name producers and an endless procession of guest stars. It’s a timeless collection of romantic soul as good as any album released in 2010.

Dream has been independently released by Al and is available via CDBaby. It’s so good, I might just have to buy myself another copy!

Fave Cuts: Slow Down, There For You, Beautiful Stranger, Never, L.O.V.E, Easy Smile, Heart Ache, Fall In Love Again

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15 12 2010
New Reviews on Soulinterviews! « SoulCuts

[…] World Goodbye / In Search of the Rainbow Seekers, out now on soulmusic.com. Check out the Mtume and Al Olive reviews. Oh! And don’t forget to listen to Souly’s excellent Robert Brookins tribute. […]

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