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Calvin Richardson | Features

SaveOurSoul fresh pick


When Love Comes

Calvin RichardsonYou know you’re in for something different the moment you hear “Sang No More,” the catchy, provocative lead single from Calvin Richardson’s new album, When Love Comes. Over a Fifties-style doo-wop ballad pulse, Calvin sings frankly about the hard choices a singer must make given the trade-offs between being an artist, a star, and an authentic human being. His choice? If fame and fortune means forgetting what’s important—love and the core values of life—then he doesn’t want to sing anymore, doesn’t want to be “successful.” The price would be too high. Spoken like a true soul man, which is what Calvin Richardson is—a contemporary, hip-hop generation version of a classic soul singer. Richardson, who grew up with K-Ci and Jo-Jo, sang alongside fellow soul crooners Angie Stone and Raphael Saadiq and appeared on numerous soundtracks including "Bringing Down the House" starring Queen Latifah and Steve Martin, demonstrates why he is one of the best singers to emerge in R&B in years on his new Shanachie recording When Love Comes to be released May 27, 2008. Affectionately known as ‘The New Prince of Soul’, Calvin Richardson demonstrates that he is a worthy heir to the tradition of Sam Cooke, Bobby Womack and Marvin Gaye.

With When Love Comes Calvin had a vision of embracing the essence of classic soul. To achieve that vision, he wrote and produced all the tracks himself. “I wanted to highlight the vintage soul sound and reconnect with the Curtis Mayfield sound, the Betty Wright sound and put it into a contemporary context,” Calvin explains. “I had done that before but this time I wanted to try to make it a more coherent statement than previously when different producers were bringing me tracks. A lot of the songs were inspired by samples, digging in the crates and listening to old music that put me in the mood to create this album. It helped me to take a sample and build off of that. When I hear that music it speaks to me in a way that just having some musicians sitting around trying ideas does not. It’s sort of a road map back to the way things used to be. I took it to another level.”

When Love Comes is notable for its wide-ranging lyrical themes. Tracks such as “Fire In The Attic,” “Nobody’s Gonna Love You” and “When Love Comes” are sure to become classic love anthems suitable to set the mood for any late-night rendezvous. Then there are the songs with a more subtle message, such as “Daddy To My Kids,” in which Calvin sings of a man’s simple desire for a strong, positive relationship with his children, or “She’s Hurtin’,” a sensitive portrait of a lonely woman looking for love in the midst of the party atmosphere of a club.

The songs highlighted on When Love Comes are personal to Calvin, who explains the story behind “Daddy To My Kids.” “I’m really, really close with my kids but I’m not with any of the mothers…and it’s tough sometimes when others are controlling the situation. The overall desire is just to be there without the restraints of the mother in the way. A lot of guys deal with that. A lot of guys could be great dads if the situation let them.”

““She’s Hurting” was inspired by a real situation. I was with a friend of mine and she had just gotten out of a relationship. We were talking and I recognized her pain. A lot of women when they break up become vulnerable and guys prey on that. I’m letting some guys know maybe that’s not the best thing.” At the same time, he’s not afraid to celebrate a woman’s sexuality on the booty bumping “Give It To Me,” which is one of several tracks that reinforce Calvin’s image as a “ladies man. “I don’t have a problem with that. I’m not a one-dimensional guy. I’m somewhat of a ladies man. I like women. I love whatever they bring to the table and I can match whatever they bring to the table.”

Calvin RichardsonThe variety of lyrical themes is matched by the variety of the grooves. The fresh conga-driven groove of “Give It To Me” is miles away from the intimate, acoustic textures of “Make Friends With Love” or the lush textures of “Fire In The Attic.” Most impressive is the fact that Calvin wrote or co-wrote all the tunes. The centrality of finger-picked or strummed guitar, often acoustic, reflects the fact that Calvin plays the instrument, writes with it and can go into a radio station and accompany himself for an impromptu performance if need be. It’s all held together by Calvin’s impressive vocalizing—an ability that is all-too-rare these days. He can move from the guttural growls of a Bobby Womack to the joyous arpeggios of Sam Cooke. He can sing hard, sweet, rough or tender. He’s not a copyist though; he has absorbed his influences and delivers an authentic rooted soul voice with a contemporary sensibility.

Calvin Richardson came by his soulful style honestly. Born in Monroe, North Carolina, the first of nine children, Calvin had a strong musical upbringing. His mother sang in the local gospel group, The Willing Wonders, and he sang with them as a youth. But he was able to listen to secular soul music and funk and was particularly inspired by Bobby Womack, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Donny Hathaway. Singing on the gospel circuit he met and became friends with Cedric “K-Ci” Hailey and Joel “Jo Jo” Hailey, who went on to form the hit-making group Jodeci in the early Nineties and later as K-Ci and JoJo scored numerous hits. Calvin was encouraged by their success to form the urban contemporary vocal group, Undacova, whose song “Love Slave” was included in the New Jersey Drive soundtrack in 1995. When Undacova folded, Calvin launched a solo career that resulted in his debut solo album Country Boy on Uptown/Universal Records in 1999. Despite strong material, including a great cover of Bobby Womack’s “I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much,” the album failed to sell, despite notable guests such as Chico DeBarge, Monifah and K-Ci, possibly due to confusion occasioned by the album title. While Calvin was working on his follow-up, Angie Stone heard a demo of his song “More Than A Woman” and invited him to duet with her on a version of the song for her album Mahogany Soul. A second album for Universal was shelved before release but Calvin’s second album release 2:35, named after the time one of his children was born, was released by Hollywood Records in 2003. The album went on to sell more than 250,000 copies and generated significant adult urban radio play. Though lumped in with the rising crop of new-soul singers, 2:35PM revealed Calvin as an authentic soul singer bringing a classic vocal style to a contemporary production sound. With When Love Comes, Calvin Richardson delivers at last an unfettered musical vision, a compelling statement of his true artistic identity.

“Working on this album before I got a new label deal was an opportunity to express myself, to let my voice be heard without hearing too many opinions about what the music was,” Calvin says. “Sometimes it takes you a while to discover your voice and your soul. I had found my way before but sometimes it can be hard when there’s a lot of people with opinions. So that was the great part for me this time around. I was able to just do me without any pressure.”

When Love Comes
Calvin Richardson - When Love Comes

01. Intro
02. Sexy Love
03. Holla At You
04. Fire In The Attic
05. Please You Baby
06. She's Hurtin'
07. Nobody Loves You
08. Give It To Me
09. Don't Go
10. Sang No More
11. Make Friends With Love
12. Daddy To My Kids
13. When Love Comes

2:35 PM
Calvin Richardson - 2:35 PM

01. Keep On Pushin'
02. Falling Out
03. I've Got To Move
04. I'm Worthy
05. More Than A Woman
06. Not Like This
07. She's Got The Love
08. You Got Me High
09. Put My Money On You
10. Your Love Is
11. I Wansumo
12. Cross My Heart

Country Boy
Calvin Richardson - Country Boy

01. I'll Take Her
02. Lovin' You
03. Trust Me So Much
04. Vibe
05. Never Knew Love
06. True Love
07. Half The Time
08. Looks Like (You've Been Crying)
09. Close My Eyes
10. Nightmare (Her Love)
11. Coming Home
12. Country Boy
13. Disrespectful Ghetto

Video for "Sang No More"
Calvin Richardson Myspace Site.