Kenny Lattimore - Here to Stay (2022)

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    Kenny Lattimore - Here To Stay

    On his ninth solo album, Kenny Lattimore applies his tender tenor vocal stylings and heartfelt lyrics to both the old school and the new school. Maintaining his classic balance of mellifluousness and robust, he effectively secures his relevance in an overcrowded marketplace by keeping in mind both longtime fans and potential new listeners. The first half of Here to Stay incorporates shades of past hits from albums such as Kenny Lattimore and Weekend, while the second expands upon the stylistic diversions hinted at on 2017’s Vulnerable.

    Kenny Lattimore - Here To Stay

    On his ninth solo album, Kenny Lattimore applies his tender tenor vocal stylings and heartfelt lyrics to both the old school and the new school. Maintaining his classic balance of mellifluousness and robust, he effectively secures his relevance in an overcrowded marketplace by keeping in mind both longtime fans and potential new listeners. The first half of Here to Stay incorporates shades of past hits from albums such as Kenny Lattimore and Weekend, while the second expands upon the stylistic diversions hinted at on 2017’s Vulnerable.

    Here to Stay opens with the chillaxed yet danceable sway of “Nothing on You,” housing a serene chorus and retro-fitted groove as the backdrop for Lattimore’s assurance of appreciating a good thing: “Heaven ain’t got nothing on you, I wish the Lord could see how much you mean to me…You’re the beat in my chest, nothin’ but assets/They try to buy your love, but can’t afford it.”

    The pace is slowed down slightly with “Never Knew,” a crisp midtempo mover bearing a radio-friendly hook imbued by Lattimore with strong phrasing and tonal momentum. Meanwhile, the vibe is breezy on the catchy “Only Girl.” Strong verses surround the assured chorus, as he reflects on the value of resisting temptation when one’s got it good in a relationship: “I can be foolish tonight, I can be careless tonight/She’s my only, she’s my all for life/I would be a fool if I ever let her leave my side/Blessed that she’s mine, and I’ma be all she needs.”

    “All In” is a similar ode to a special lady, adding falsetto flourishes into the mix, while “What Are You Waiting For” goes for a club vibe. The groove is good, and Kenny slides in and out of it with finesse. With the melody and pulsations complemented by lyrical passages focused on reclaiming love in one’s life, the track could be especially effective if beefed up with some more vocals and an extension of the percussive elements hinted at here and there. As it stands, it falls short of having a lasting impact.

    The second half of Here to Stay, in keeping with its title, makes clear Lattimore’s intent to remain relevant in an era where listening habits are often more particular and hard to predict than ever. While he doesn’t make any overt attempts to pander to a basic sound, the atmosphere of these five tracks is designed more pointedly in line with currently popular production approaches. Thankfully, the lyrical content remains minimally swayed by trends. And while the vocal production is at times heavier than desirable, Lattimore continues to effectively purvey a range of musically emotive qualities.

    With the instrumentation pared down on selections like “Lose You” and “Pressure,” it’s striking how little his voice has changed through the years. The high notes are resonant, the flourishes and resiliency smooth and strong. Melodically speaking, most of these cuts fall a bit flat in comparison to the earlier tracks. While they’re solid by contemporary radio standards, they’re not as memorable or soul-stirring as Lattimore classics such as “Never Too Busy” or “Weekend.”

    The closing ballad, “Survive,” however, is more impactful with a keyboard-driven arrangement honing in on his sweet falsetto tones—and a pretty melody, to boot. With his words on this tune and several others preceding it, perhaps Lattimore gets a bit carried away with the “good man to the rescue” narrative; but that’s highly preferable to the tasteless alternatives for which many artists will settle. Recommended.

    by Justin Kantor

     
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