Coming from a Gospel and Soul background and singing backing vocals for Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu, or Kirk Franklin, it seems fitting that Loren Oden collaborates with arranger, producer, and composer Adrian Younge, who has recently worked with Roy Ayers and Marcos Valle for his “Jazz Is Dead” series.
It seems as if Marvin Gaye has come down to us on a piece like “Is There A Way”, with subtle synth and keys backdrop, reminiscent of Amii Stewart’s classic “Friends”. Loren’s vocals in combination with flute and strings are fascinating. More 80s-sounding keyboard work à la Loose Ends is the basis for “Words To Say”, with eerie falsetto vocals and an overall sinister mood which doesn’t really come across as dangerous, but is more on the bittersweet side. Love those claps! Excellent stuff! The propulsive beat and a melody which at first reminded me of Stevie’s “Summer Soft”, more arcane backing vocals and lofty strings, turn “Addicted” into just that.
Most of the songs could have been a bit longer in my humble opinion. With about a dozen tracks around 3:00 minutes or less, I often thought that particular tracks could have grown a lot more. “Don’t Be” has the capacity of becoming a veritable hymn, but it is over far too soon. Loren’s vocals, unique as they are, sometimes blend Ronald Isley and Prince. There is a pretty hushed mood and atmosphere on “All Roads”, another hypnotic piece with mystical guitar touches and synth drops too cool to ignore. Chico DeBarge and Jimmy Abney come to mind on “Waiting For”, with 1:35 minutes another one of those far too short tunes on offer.
On “Matters Of The Heart”, Loren’s both sexy and cool vocals are brought together with singer Estelle, forming a sweltering, soaking duet, underscored by theatrical strings. “Somber Sonnet” seems to hark back to the glorious 70s soul sounds, with Bert Kaempfert bass, hummed vocals, mixed with 80s keys. Genius! On “The Moment”, you get the pretty rare proof here that Loren is in fact a pretty profound and deep singing artist because his voice is mixed up more to the front. “Timeless Answers” is a little masterpiece where Loren’s vocals once again seem to be part of the overall mixture, instead of actually fronting the set. Which makes this whole album all the more coherent and captivating. It’s Marvin Gaye meets D’Angelo on the album closer “Frequency”, with its riveting drums and upbeat twists breaking out a bit. But still, it’s those otherworldly vocals which seem to make it all gel together. Favorite track: “Galaxies”. Claps, perfectly rounded and soothing harmony vocals, a melody to die for. And I really startled up in a positive, stirring way when I first heard the album opener and title track.
And yes, the album is available on vinyl!