Charlie Wilson – Love, Charlie Album Review by Jay Fingers

Title: Love, Charlie
Artist: Charlie Wilson
Label: RCA
Genre(s): R&B, Soul
Released: January 29, 2013

In an era where R&B singers are busy making electro-tinged songs and hipsters have taken over as arbiters of good soul music, it’s refreshing to hear an album like Charlie Wilson’s latest release Love, Charlie. The 12-track disc is a clear celebration of love in all its forms, but mostly, obviously, the romantic version. This makes sense as many of the tracks on the album were co-written with Wilson’s wife, Mahin.

When thinking about the trajectory of Uncle Charlie’s career, it’s impressive to note that his work with The Gap Band defined an entire generation of singers, many of whom he’s since collaborated with in his solo work. Artists such as R. Kelly, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, T-Pain, Justin Timberlake, and Snoop Lion Dogg have all joined forces with the Grammy award-nominated Wilson at one point or another.

Unlike most of what now passes for contemporary R&B, Love, Charlie is truly romantic. It focuses on themes of love, fidelity, and passion, and does so without ever verging into vulgar territory. Wilson is not portraying a pimp or player. He is the consummate loverman.

The album’s first half is strong, with powerful, sweeping joints like “A Million Ways to Love You,” the lead single “My Love is All I Have,” and the throwback soul of the harmonious “I Think I’m in Love.” Tracks like these showcase Wilson’s commanding, explosive vocals while also blending the retro and contemporary sensibilities both his new and older fans will pick up on and appreciate.

The pace quickens on the album’s second half. “Turn Off The Lights” is a groovy, mid-tempo jam about a night of passion with a beautiful woman. It’s a sexy, smooth cut that paves the way for some of the album’s more upbeat songs. “My Baby” is funky, party-starting track that slyly alludes to the Gap Band’s seminal hit “Outstanding.” And the cool “Ooh Wee” is a sublime, yet energetic, futuristic disco dance tune.

The only real missteps are “I Believe,” a saccharine inspirational number that begins the album on a rather awkward note (such songs are usually reserved for the end of an album); and “Whisper,” a surprisingly solid duet with Keith Sweat that would be a winner were it not for a silly reference to hitting a woman up on Twitter because she’s “always logged on.”

While there’s nothing here to rival past hits like “There Goes My Baby,” “You Are,” or “Charlie, Last Name Wilson,” Love, Charlie is very much still a decent album and a much-needed respite from the club-ready, EDM soul that passes for R&B music these days. And with Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s a clear candidate for an enjoyable, and romantic, listening experience.

Rating: B+

Favorite Songs:

My Love is All I Have:

I Think I’m in Love:
httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atgMLnp7KqM

Turn Off The Lights:
httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkh1Ezc7VM4

My Baby:
httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYkrp6KoxJs

 

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