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I decided to start with Kenny Lattimore’sTimeless since a few of ya’ll gave the idea of  yet another remake album a lukewarm reception. It’s certainly understandable since we haven’t had a solo project from him since the beginning of Bush’s first term. Not so fast, readers. You just might be missing out.

Dear Kenny,

Welcome back! It’s truly good to hear your voice come through my speakers again. Last time was two years ago when you and Chante (Moore) teamed up again for a second album, Uncovered/Covered .

Now why didn’t I know you grew up around these parts and went to the high school a stone’s throw away from my front door? And I call myself a fan?! You’re practically family!

I’ve been enjoying your sound since the eponymous platinum debut album where you gave us timeless tunes such as, “Never Too Busy” and one of the  wedding songs, “For You.” Fast forward twelve years and two more solo albums later, I’m considered a “tastemaker” with the power of the “pen,” and the ability to influence the purchases of music aficionados across the globe.

When I first heard about your new project and mentioned it in this space, folks weren’t jumping out of their chairs. Understandably, they want some original material from one of our favorite crooners. Now that you’re signed to Verve (very good look by the way), I expect you’ll be dropping some exclusive material for us soon.

Let’s talk about Timeless.

A lot of folks simply don’t get down with remake or tribute albums. I’m actually a fan of them as long as they are done correctly. I’m happy to say Timeless definitely has my stamp of approval.

I am impressed that you took on such an ambitious project. Tackling musical icons Donny, Marvin, Stevie, Al, Aretha, Otis, Elton John, and The Beatles on one album sure takes a lot of guts. Inevitably, people are going to compare your version with the original and be hard pressed to think you did anything to improve upon it. Not with this bunch.

You said in an interview that you wanted the music to feel “organic and not forced.” I think that’s been my problem with some of these remake/tribute albums. Right songs matched up with the wrong voices. That was not the case here.

Here is the tracklisting. Let’s talk about what I considered the standouts:
1. Something (Original Artist: Al Green)
2. Everybody Here Wants You (Original Artist: Jeff Buckley)
3. You Are My Starship (Original Artist: Norman Connors/Michael Henderson)
4. And I Love Her (Original Artist: The Beatles)
5. Come Down In Time (Original Artist: Elton John)
6. That’s The Way Love Is (Original Artist: Marvin Gaye)
7. Ain’t No Way (Original Artist: Aretha Franklin)
8. I Love You More Than Words Can Say (Original Artist: Otis Redding)
9. Ain’t No Use (Original Artist: Stevie Wonder)
10. Undeniably (Original Artist: Terence Trent D’arby – now Sananda Maitreya!)
11. Giving Up (Original Artist: Donnie Hathaway)

The first single, Norman Conners, “You Are My Starship,” is one of my all-time favorite songs. From the opening notes, it just flows inside of me and melts down slowly. It’s not a song that I take too kindly to folks messing with. Frankly, it’s been overdone. So family or no family, if you just had to touch it again, it needed to be done right or we would have had some problems! I am happy to say we are still cool. You did the song justice with your signature velvety vocals. I love the change in the arrangement. It’s subtle enough not to stray too much from the original. I can see why Norman Conners embraced what you did with it.

“Something” was another favorite for me. Great track to open the album with. When I’m listening to it on the Metro, I’m dancing in my seat to the point that people around me are definitely thinking I could be one sandwich short of a picnic. They’re not hearing what I’m hearing.

Don’t tell Jeff Buckley but while I really like his version on “Everybody Here Wants You,” I love yours. I wish this had been your song. Your falsetto is simply beautiful. Very sexy. Yours is the version I will place on that “make a baby” soundtrack.

“Ain’t No Way,” is another song that I don’t think should be touched. Aretha owns it. However, you took me to church on this one! You had me looking around for my Martin Luther King church fan.

“Undeniably,” “Ain’t No Use,” and “I Love You More Than Words Can Say” were also stand out tracks for me. That sax interlude on “Undeniably”  just takes the song to another level for me. I wasn’t a big Terrance Trent D’Arby fan so I had never heard this song. However, even after hearing his live version, I have to say you “own” this song.

Now I got to keep it real, Kenny. The one song where you fell a bit short for me was “Giving Up.” I just don’t know if anyone but Donny should ever touch that song. The hopelessness and loss in his voice is virtually impossible to recapture. I don’t think it’s a song that anyone could or should make their own.

Overall, I’m happy to say that this project isindeed one that I can let play from start to finish. As I mentioned, it often relaxes me after a long day working to get Obama in the White House! However next time we hear from you, it needs to be an entire set of new material. You have covered the best and done it well. This ambitious project is the perfect way to close that door for a while.

I am looking forward to what’s up next. See you on tour! If the sound of the instruments on the album are any indication, your live show is one not to be missed.

Vivrant Thang