Here's a lovely album. Arnold McCuller may not be a household name outside , but he is an in-demand backup vocalist, composer and musician. On his fourth album, Back To Front [2001, What's Good, 11; 49:34], he's lead vocalist where previously he sang backup. Thus the name.
The unfamiliar selections will become favourites, since they are all excellent, including one of his own gems, "Hot and Sultry Afternoon" (written with Jan Alejandro).
Marc Cohn's "Paper Walls" is reminiscent of Robert Cray's "Your Secret's Safe With Me." In the same devious vein, the story is an eerie delight. The title song off Nick of Time gets a sparser arrangement than Ms Raitt's that showcases the lyrics. The entire disc benefits from lean, mean instrumentation, though it's not obvious at first, given the exquisite sound.
You will recall "Lazy Nina" from Greg Phillingane's Pulse album. How wonderful hearing that Donald Fagin gem again. Wonderful enough to merit an exclamation point! "Closing Time" is a tune designed to make you think, "Well, maybe I'll hit that replay button." For the fifty-minute set seems too short. (Now there's something I rarely get to write.)
McCuller's joined by other great vocalists, including Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens of Was (Not Was). Featured instrumentalists include André Fisher, Brad Cole and snappy percussion by Cassio Duarte, among others, all top-notch.
It's my kind of album – a gift of song,
not vocal mummery. Arnold loves the songs, now we can enjoy them together.
Great music without gimmicks, Back to Front.