In an era where R&B singers are busy making electro-tinged songs and hipsters have taken over as arbiters of good soul music, its refreshing to hear an album like Charlie Wilsons 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 Wilsons wife, Mahin.
When thinking about the trajectory of Uncle Charlies career, its impressive to note that his work with The Gap Band defined an entire generation of singers, many of whom hes 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 albums 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 Im in Love.” Tracks like these showcase Wilsons 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 albums second half. “Turn Off The Lights” is a groovy, mid-tempo jam about a night of passion with a beautiful woman. Its a sexy, smooth cut that paves the way for some of the albums 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 shes “always logged on.”
While theres 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 Valentines Day approaching, its a clear candidate for an enjoyable, and romantic, listening experience.
My Love is All I Have:
I Think Im in Love:
Turn Off The Lights: