Monday, March 27, 2006

Review: Feels Good--Take 6

Take 6
Feels Good (Take 6 Records)
Released March 2006
reviewed by LaTonya Taylor
4.5 out of 5 stars

Sounds like … a capella vocal jazz, gospel and R&B for fans of artists like The Manhattan Transfer, Acapella, Boys II Men and Glad.

At a glance … a return to Take 6's a capella roots, Feels Good is a reminder that when it comes to vocal jazz, these peerless cats haven't merely built a eclectic musical home of their own—they own the block.

Feels Good begins a new era for Take 6 as the first album on their eponymous label. Yet it's grounded in their unique blend of a capella vocal jazz, gospel, pop and R&B. This musical brew is a combination of contagious joy and the appearance of cool-cat, unstudied ease—the kind of "unstudied" ease one develops after writing, rehearsing and performing with the same group for more than 20 years. So casual listeners sing along within a chorus or two—and music lovers uncover new layers of complexity years after the first listen. And this album doesn't disappoint either audience.

Opening with the celebratory "Come On," Take 6 then adds a Sabbath-morning gospel ad-lib vamp to a crisp arrangement of Andrae Crouch's classic "This Is Another Day," before the cool, swing-rock of "Feels Good" (listen for a playful reference to "I Got Life" from 1994's Join The Band). John Stoddart's "Wait for the Sunshine" develops themes of patience—for good things ahead, for healed relationships, for courage to pursue dreams.

"Family of Love" eases into a reflective phase of the album that also includes "More Than Ever," a radio-ready R&B song over two-man snap-clap percussion, as well as the confident "Set U Free." Take 6's trademark diversity is represented in the natural transition from the joyous jazz standard "Just in Time" into an arrangement of Twila Paris' richly meditative "Lamb of God." "You Can Make It—Go On!" is a funky thematic bookend.

Fans with extensive Take 6 catalogues might be a shade disappointed that earlier arrangements of two of the album's tracks—"This Is Another Day" and "Family of Love"—appear elsewhere. On a 40-minute album, it'd be cool to have an extra new track or two to savor, or maybe an extension of "Vinterlude" or the tribute "I'll Never Turn Back No More." But we—um, they—shouldn't be too greedy. If the last 10 albums are any indication, there's plenty to tide us over 'til the next one.

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