Anita Baker - My Everything

This new album from Anita Baker ends the ten year sabbatical she undertook in order to give time to her husband and two sons. She has chosen the prestigious Blue Note label to relaunch her career, which was once a pure modern jazz company, but in recent times has adopted a higher profile with other new signings such as Van Morrison, Al Green and a certain newcomer called Norah Jones.

A lot has changed in the music business and particularly the soul music business while Anita was enjoying her lengthy career break. Real soul music is nowadays a rare commodity appealing to a specialized audience. Witness how a talent like Anne Nesby, after leaving Sounds Of Blackness and making two albums which must be amongst the very best soul recordings of the last twenty years, is not presently signed to a major label.

Anita Baker fans will be pleased that "My Everything" does not stray away from the successful Anita Baker sound and successful is the right word for an artist who is an eight times Grammy Winner. She feels no need to go 'contemporary' and include hip-hop production techniques or indulge in sampling. The CD booklet tells us that all of the tracks feature a 'live rhythm section' and when that includes players like bassist Nathan East and drummer Steve Ferrone, once of the Average White Band you can be sure there is no need for more than one 'take'. Baker has created her own 'classic' style - there really is no other singer that sounds like her, certainly not in the contemporary world of the music that dares to call itself R&B.

This album consists almost entirely of 'real' instruments - it is not until track 4 that the sound of a synthesizer can be heard. That track entitled "Serious" is the only one out of ten that she did not have a hand in writing. On Like You Used To Do" she duets with Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds on one of those whatever happened to us' songs, which starts off gently and gradually builds towards the end. "Men In My Life" which closes the album is Anita's tribute to her husband and two sons which could have easily turned out cloying, but doesn't as she sings of the three men in her life she put her career on hold for.

Whether this album puts Anita Baker back in the charts after such a long break remains to be seen and time will also tell if any of these songs attain classic status and constant radio play such as "Rapture", "Giving You The Best That I Got" etc still receive today.

Derek McCann

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