A few listens of Terri Walkers new album 'I Am' and the reason why I wasn't totally getting into it hits me.
I'd been wondering why I didn't feel the spark, that 'It' I long to get from an album and the answer came to me; there's no distinctive Terri Walker style which, in my opinion, separates the megastars of R&B from the nearly rans (tell me you don't know its Mary J Blige or Janet Jackson singing when a song of theirs comes on your radio). She's a good singer with an OK production team no doubt but I never, throughout the album, get the impression that's she's stretching herself on any of her songs. It's also the lack of a 'that's Terri walker I'm listening to because no one else sings that way' song for me.
The album starts with the title track 'I Am' where she declares her faith in the uniqueness and power of self and it picks up with 'No matter whatever' and even more with 'Alright with me' (it's the first single coming out on April 24th) with the catchiest chorus on the album in a deferential nod to Erkyah Badu. The wordplay/lyrics aren't exactly great on 'No Matter Whatever' (where she overuses the phrase 'I don't give a damn') but it's a catchy tune with a drumline that sounds like Erykahs 'On and On'.
She softens the tone of her voice on 'Addicted' and switches to sounding like Jill Scott. Even the fadeout vamp with the off-the-cuff freestyle comes across as an attempt at what's become a JS signature. Saying that though she pulls it off well.
She slows it down towards the end of the album with ballads like 'I Don't Care' and 'Outta My System' and 'Imperative'. 'Imperative' is a song that shows she does know how to work a tune but she needs to push herself lyrically and vocally at other times, the brilliant saxophone backdrop on this song suits and accentuates her vocal ability.
Terri Walker has released two albums prior to 'I Am', 'Untitled' and 'L.O.V.E' didn't do great on the charts but the expectation is 'I Am' should satisfy some of the fans who've been drawn into smooth songs by Corrine Bailey Rae and want some more. She's a flag bearer for British urban music, she deserves the support she'll get…
The album is out on the 15th of May.