I can’t help comparing singer, songwriter, actress, and producer Rhonda Ross to her mother, the great Diana Ross. After all, their voices are surprisingly similar. But this is where the similarities end. Thankfully, Rhonda refrains from simply copying her mother’s work so this isn’t another Motown record or a Supremes best-of kind-of collection. No, Rhonda surely is her own boss, writing all of the lyrics to the dozen songs on offer here, starting with the lushly produced soul opener and title track “In Case You Didn’t Know”, sounding like coming right off a Broadway show. And the fact that she is married to brilliant jazz pianist Rodney Kendrick only adds excitement to the story.
Her strongest skill, along with this remarkable voice, is the way she tells her stories. Stories of spirituality, healing, and Black Lives Matter. And the closest she gets to a modern-day Motown sound is on the upbeat, optimistic “All I Want” which also has some strong background vocal work by Terelle Tipton, Keesha Gumbs, and Sheniqua Trotman. Rhonda gets jazzy on the equally festive, exuberant “Summer Day”, which boasts with a great trumpet solo by Duane Eubanks, who is also responsible for the horn arrangements on the album, together with saxophonist Darryl Yokley, and pianist/keyboardist Terry Burrus.
There is a strong, sexy groove on the passionate “Breathe”, a bluesy jazz cut which takes Rhonda to some soaring heights. The story of love lost is wrapped in a dramatic pop backing on “Here Right Now”. Great drum work is offered on the shuffling “Drumbeat Of Life”, a joint collaboration by Rhonda and husband Rodney Kendrick, also including a strong, effective background vocal arrangement. Rhonda gets folksy on the all-acoustic “Evermore”, a somewhat hokey ballad which also features singer Terelle Tipton.
“Run On”, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, is all about surviving and really showcases Rhonda’s perfectly-pitched singing and her regal, unmitigated voice. On the sweet ballad “From Now On”, Rhonda’s similarity to her mother is almost surreal. A captivating groove catapults “Nobody’s Business” to one of the highlights on the album. The production work on this one is pretty crisp and clean.
The album ends with another Ross/Kendrick collaboration, a thrilling “It Don’t Matter” with its preachy impetus and another sweet ballad, the inspirational “You’re My Song”, dedicated to her mother and sounding like a track from the “Touch Me In The Morning” album. And finally, a rap-enhanced version of “Run On”.Follow: