This deep soul CD by singer Gregg Smith starts off with some of the most straight ahead soulful singing he's ever done. While not well-known outside of his Texas home, those that do know of Gregg A. Smith realize that he brings nothing but sweet soul music to the table. His specialty being the "quiet storm", behind closed doors, type of ballads. His discography, of which there are at least 5 other recordings testify to his unwavering commitment to southern soul music.
Forbidden Fruit has 10 tracks with nary a cover tune in sight. Producer Steven Nettles wrote, sang, and produced every cut. Although you've never heard these songs before they sound familiar. The ingenuity of using various arrangements each song sounds unique and original. Actually there is hardly a" name" performer on the CD. Lucky Peterson is the only person I recognized on this CD and his prestigious talent is hidden on the CD.Smith's vocals are showcased when you listen to the tracks and realize that most songs do not have an instrumental break.
While Mr. Smith isn't graced with the most flexible, strong voice it is very distinctive and full of emotion. He also knows how to produce the songs to get the most play out of the background singers, simple sound effects, double tracking, an instrumental, and duets. On "Serious" there is a nice duet with an unnamed female vocalist. On "Brother Ricky" he uses only male backup singers. Smith uses his double tracked vocals on to great effect. He digs into the spoken intro bag, a la Barry White on the song "Hush Boy" and "Here I Go Again". But he uses it just as an intro to get the listener in a mood, not as an overkill gimmick. On "Bad Habit" you get a song with a closing refrain you rarely hear. The outro of the song is 2 minutes of the female background singers repeating the title phrase/refrain. There is an instrumental version of "Here I Go Again" but it's hard to tell if Mr. Smith is on this track as it only lists his talent as a singer. The only problem with the song is that it's too short. Just as you're getting the groove it fades out. The song" Laughing At Us" is gospel in both lyrical content, instrumentation, and especially the choir- like background vocals. It seems out of place on this CD but sounds good nevertheless. "I Can't Go On" is the closest to a blues tune on the CD, one that would work on a blues program. The great falsetto and sweetly- subtle guitar work make this a song you want to listen to over and over again. The way I feel about this song is the way I feel about this whole CD, I enjoy listening to it over and over again.
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This review is copyright © 2002 by Putnay Thomas, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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