Robert Palmer,
Rhythm & Blues
(Pyramid/Rhino, 1999)

I thought Robert Palmer's new CD Rhythm & Blues would be, as the title suggests, somewhat reminiscent of jazz, rhythm and blues. And I was right, to a certain extent. Take a sample of old Motown R&B, throw in some techno variations and, of course, Robert Palmer, and you've got this CD. For pop culture, this album should be a nice treat.

The first song, "True Love," opens up with a nice percussion rhythm and a slight techno twist. This song should hit the pop charts with a solid thump. The song "Let's Get it On" harkens back to Palmer's earlier CDs, but the music reminds me of old Motown R&B love songs.

In fact, this entire album is filled with variations on this theme of love: true love, finding love, the inability to stop thinking about the one you love, finding that special person for a wise guy, choosing someone, and the list goes on. So, if you're in the throes of love, Palmer's album should provide good background music.

There are other songs of other themes. In "You're not the Only One," Palmer sings about another person's selfishness. In this song, Palmer shortens his consonants and syllables in the chorus, in seeming emulation of James Brown's funky beats and singing styles, without the signature "yows" and screaming.

"Twenty million things," another love song, differs from the rest of the album. For one, it actually opens up with a nice acoustic string solo that reminds me a bit of Renaissance music. The rest of the song is a simple piano accompanied only by Palmer's voice dominant in a lovely duet. Its short and simplistic style carries weight and gives it more of an "umph" than most of the other love songs on the album. It's a nice deviation from the rest of the album where the songs have background beat provided by technology.

[ by Jade Falcon ]

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