Reviews

Michelle Williams - Heart To Yours

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Radio-friendly title track Heart to Yours (MusicWorld/Sony) deviates from the standard opening format with a mid-tempo smooth jazz drive that showcases Michelle's delicate vocals.

Heard A Word demonstrates further versatility in Ella-like fashion. Immediately, the concept of Destiny's Child's hit repetoire begins to take a different shape. Michelle's goal here seems to be to separate herself from her alter Illinois ego and present a different vocal persona to her new gospel public.

She eases herself back into the regular groove with Jeep Cherokee (JC) jam o.k.a. (otherwise known as) the Jesus Christ jam - So Glad to Be Here featuring perennial guest favorites, Mary Mary.

Various audio shades overshadow Sun Will Shine Again with jazz-infused harmonic progressions. A window into Michelle’s musical influences open up with each successive track as the ear immediately forms links with iconical giants Janet Jackson, Kirk Franklin and Take Six.

For those ears searching for some sign of D.C. Everything with its signature D.C. vocal harmonic riff arrangement should satisfy the thirst.

Probably the cut that will be most endearing to the majority of traditional listeners (besides Shirley Caesar’s Steal Away) is You Cared for Me featuring Men of Standard. Recently the MOS Squad have been heating up the airwaves with tracks on almost everything going from Woody Rock to their own latest release. Somewhat more laid-back on the vocal calisthenics, they allow Michelle to hold her own, and her soulful chops shine brilliantly on this track.

Of course, one would be hard pressed to stand toe to toe with Gospel’s incomparable reigning Traditional monarch. The queen herself, Shirley Caesar, becomes mentor and teacher to Michelle, allowing her a platform to try-on her Traditional Gospel shoes. Leon Patillo’s 80’s-something Cornerstone (I Lay In Zion), becomes a perfect retro-foundation for the new treatment. Hard-core jam Rock With Me literally ROCKS!. Gal pals Beyoncé and Kelly work the acapella praise medley with excepts from Thank You (based on the melody from Kirk’s Holy is the Lamb), Jesus Loves Me (from the Bodyguard) and the anthemic Amen from Richard Smallwood’s Total Praise. The treatment combines beautiful harmonic blending and technically adept background vocal arrangement.



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