Charles Wright – Something to Make You Feel Good
Author, composer of seminal R&B classics like “Express Yourself”, and leading voice in the African-American community, Charles Wright’s artistry and mind have helped shape the course of a significant American art form. His latest full length album release, Something To Make You Feel Good, is another remarkably solid entry in an extended discography seldom equaled in popular music history. Wright’s musical efforts are always well-constructed, musical entertaining affairs immaculately produced and tailored for a wide audience. Something to Make You Feel Good is no exception. The album’s songs touch on reliable themes filtered through Wright’s songwriting and distinctive presence as a performer while exploring the customary array of genres. Wright’s audacious side comes through strongly, as well, in his steadfast habit for synthesizing elements of those various genres into compelling hybrids.
Wright’s Clarksdale, Mississippi roots come through on every track. The opener, “Answer to My Prayers”, is a dreamily paced blues lightly peppered with clean guitar through the verses. Wright’s voice is recorded close, intimately, and the timber aches with artfully understated emotion. “Apartment Living” is much slinkier fare. The loping bass and stuttered drumming lock into a groove punctuated with crystalline slices of electric guitar. Ghostly chords hang in the background before the song segues into its verses. Melody and more strong rhythm section work anchors the playful “Looking for an Ugly Woman”, but the seemingly obvious humor disguises some blues tropes that Wright, an experienced songwriter, artfully restates for a new audience and album. The habit of recording Wright’s vocals up front over the other instrumentation continues on the patient and soulful “Better Watch Out”. He gives a particularly emotive vocal here that stands out from other moments on Something to Make You Feel Good.
The album’s lead off single, “She Don’t Believe In Love”, is a crackling funk cut with a biting humor and an energetic vocal. The rhythm section, once again, plays with a romping, go for broke attitude propelling the track towards its inevitable conclusion. Lightly understated organ and brass make their presence felt on the song “Happiness” and its bold, enormous sound streaks across the listener’s consciousness with irrepressible spirit. The same assertive spirit pushes “Throwing in the Towel”, but it’s the insistent and simple piano riffing that underpins the song’s success. Wright belts out a real blinder of a vocal only made stronger by well-employed harmony vocals. Wright’s gospel influences emerge on the song “Comfort Me” – it has the familiar, all-encompassing sound ripped straight from Sunday morning Baptist churches throughout the American South. He pours every ounce of conviction into his vocal and it dives and climbs with exquisite sensitivity.
The album’s final song, “Storybook”, is an unexpected finale. This is a pure piece of pop funk jauntiness with unusual percussion and a bright, lively spirit that keeps listeners guessing from the first note on. Wright’s composing invention is in full evidence here as it is elsewhere on this exceptional album. Something to Make You Feel Good will bring a smile to face and engage you physically in a way that few albums do these days.
9 out of 10 stars.