It amazes me that Bryan Duncan's music just seems to be getting better with every fresh release. The Renaissance that began with 'Blue Skies' which continued through The Last Time I Was Here' is bearing even more fruit on this latest outing. It's an apt title as this is one musical journey that is completely characterised by joy. A change of record label has given Bryan a new lease of life! Previous companies seemed to handcuff his natural funkiness and make the mistake of dumping his grooviest tunes to track eight or nine but 'Joyride' kicks straight in with a James Brown-style yelp and a horn-driven abandoned "I'd Like To Thank You Jesus". He's definitely up for some fun and "Everything In The Garden" is a playful story of Adam and Eve, all jazzed up. A guest appearance from Ashley Cleveland on the supremely groovy "Clap Your Hands" only helps you appreciate what a pair of incredible singers they are. Stylistically, Bryan stretches things out nicely throughout and for once I'm pleased because although the ballads are great and allow him to let those emotions out, I just love it when he pushes the boat out and lets loose. He gets down to some serious funk with Donnie McClurkin on "Where There's Love" and at the other extreme he turns McCartney's classic love song for Linda, "Maybe I'm Amazed", into a gospelised celebration of the amazing grace and love of God. Vocally he's never sounded better and it's incredible to me that in a career stretching back to the '70s, he's never performed in the UK. With the high standard of recent releases, it would definitely be a case of better late than never to get him over here!
Interested in reviewing music? Find out