Reviewed by Tony Cummings
I remember a story of a songwriter friend of mine who made his first trip to Nashville. He got to see a big A&R man, passed his demo tape to the music biz veteran and the chap proceeded to listen to 20 seconds of each of my friend's eight songs before announcing, "Naah, there's nothing there." And that's the rub for thousands upon thousands of hopeful songwriters who each year pitch their songs to record companies, music publishers and radio stations. The industry is looking for songs, SPECIAL songs, songs that stand out from the myriad penned and with a fragment of melody or a stanza of lyrics become instantly memorable.and therefore likely to become "hits" and produce money. Such songs are hard to find and harder to produce. On this album, Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Desiree 'Dezzie' Neal is unable to deliver a potential hit. She has a fine, fine voice - warm, vibrant and not dissimilar in tone and delivery to another Philadelphian, Jill Scott, while producers Eric "Booty" Greene Jr and Irvin Washington have skilfully encased her in accompaniments, part jazz, part urban, and part neo soul. Dezzie's skill and feel for a jazz vibe almost makes me wish she'd gone for an all out sanctified jazz set ala Ruth Naomi Floyd. But be that as it may, these self-penned songs fail to register. The press release tells me that "this project is personal as it relates to various trials endured along her journey. Dezzie says she wants backslidden souls to know that there is still hope and the lost to know that life is more fulfilling in Christ." Worthy sentiments and Dezzie's lyrics are honestly and occasionally eloquently expressed. Dezzie is clearly a gifted artist. But like many others, that truly memorable song remains, for the moment at least, illusive.
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