Once more your rockin’ writer felt the urge to resurrect his “Listen Again” series. For those of you just joining us, the “Listen Again” series is a series in which we revisit albums that for one reason or another didn’t receive the attention or acclaim they deserved when they were originally released. Whether it was the recording was ahead of its time, broke away from the artist’s usual style, was poorly publicized or initially misunderstood, the “Listen Again” series urges music fans to listen again. This time we revisit Norman Kelsey’s 2007 debut disc A Talent For Loving.
“A Talent For Loving”
For those not yet in the know, Norman Kelsey is an L.A.-based singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist. The band roster for this premiere platter included Kelsey (vocals, keyboards and percussion), Bryan Farrar (guitar, percussion, and background vocals), Doug Gordon (drums, percussion, and background vocals), Adam Marsland (keyboards, glockenspiel, percussion, background vocals) and Teresa Cowles (background vocals). The album appropriately opens on the title track “A Talent For Loving” which thanks to an infectious hook and noteworthy guitar work was once named “Catchiest Song” by the officials at the International Pop Overthrow Festival. (Contrary to what ladies who have dated me might think, the song has nothing to do with your rascally reviewer.)
The second serving of Kelsey cuts here is “Fall Out”. It’s a tight track full of funk and soul. This one takes the “Critic’s Choice” due for the most part to lyrics seemingly drawn right out of your randy writer’s personal life: “Ain’t getting younger, but I can keep it going on/ . . . I’ll rock you so hard, we fall out of your bed.”
“U Had The $” and “Everything My Heart Desires”
The next number is “U Had The $”. This a good track for a party playlist. No doubt due in part to the punchy bass line and the sharp guitar play here.
It’s followed by “Everything My Heart Desires”. This is the CD”s first ballad. It’s marked by a 1970’s-like groove that makes the song both retro and new at the same time.
“Everyone’s Ingenue” is next here. This is the first of the few tunes co-composed with Farrar. Here they pick things up a bit again complete with guitar hooks that are vaguely reminiscent of The Rolling Stones and a more than friendly backbeat. It’s a classy cut and a fan favorite.
“Sucka” quite simply was made to get an audience up on their feet dancing. The track features funky, wah-wah guitar and more of the band’s “make you move” magic. It’s quite simple: People better recognize what we’re trying to prove/We just want to see your asses move . . .”
“Done Lost My Mind”
Kelsey can crank out cuts that are romantic as well. Witness the seventh selection “Done Lost My Mind”. This is little more than an obvious, open statement of sentiment in song. It does, however, also contain a word of wisdom or two in lyrical lines such as “What I have forgotten I didn’t need to know”.
“I Can’t Cry For You” and “Down By Love”
The following couple of cuts are both additional examples of what Kelsey can accomplish when he works with others. Both the song “I Can’t Cry For You” and the ditty “Down By Love” were co-composed with Farrar. They both rock and provide a bit of variety in terms of musical genre as well.
“Roosevelt’s Revue” includes the backing vocals of Patty Tokahuta. This is another romantic fan favorite. It’s a piece that includes perhaps a personal pledge from the artist himself: “I promise you my friends/That the party never ends/And I’m giving all of you a lift”. Some critics refer to this one as both classy and “storming”.
The closing cut is “Love Someone”. This one is the result of a tuneful team-up twixt Kelsey and Dennis Satterfield and brings over 40 minutes of romantic, slow jams and sexy dance floor fillers to a fitting finale. This is an apt ending to an album of dance, romance and pop rock and soul obviously influenced by the likes of Prince, Chic, Motown, the Beatles and perhaps even James Brown. If you’ve never listened to Norman Kelsey’s A Talent For Loving, listen to it. If you’ve already listened to it . . . listen again.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.