This album has an instant familiarity, and Leon Ware’s background makes it easy to see why – he has written and produced music for the likes of Quincy Jones, Maxwell, the Average White Band, and many more. He also wrote and produced Marvin Gaye’s I Want You. And his latest work harkens back to the sort of soul in which Gaye specialized. The groove is the thing on most of those records, and Ware’s lyrics and vocals, about love and relationships for the most part, glide effortlessly over those grooves. As with any record of this nature, the rhythm section is important, and Teddy Campbell (drums) and Alex Al (bass) do most of the work. Guitar chores are ably handled mostly by David Foreman, with Rob Bacon and David T. Walker manning the six-strings on the remainder. Walker shines on “Just Take Your Time,” which features a fine intro where Walker weaves in and out of the tune, taking the listener on an easy-to-follow soul-guitar journey.
But Ware’s writing and co-writing highlight the record. “To Serve You (All My Love)” is the kind of pop/soul tune that was pushed off the charts with the advent of hip-hop. Same for “A Whisper Away,” another Gaye-style groove with prototypical guitar by Bacon. “Loceans” boasts lovely changes, a great hook, and a haunting melody. That love of vocals is evident throughout the record, where layers upon layers of soulful vocals pile into a chorus that sounds like R&B angels.
Ware’s music, while being as old-fashioned as can be in some ways, is a unique sound in the wasteland that is R&B these days.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.