STYLE: R&B RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 21258-11880 LABEL: Syntax 843041022712 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 2 RRP: £9.99
Reviewed by Mike Rimmer
Tonex is a genius artist who seems to be surrounded by an unfair amount of criticism and rumour. He is a top rate singer, talented songwriter and imaginative producer. His last album 'Out The Box' garnered a whole host of awards and yet he ended up in litigation with his record label and ended up announcing he was quitting gospel music. He's been recording mainstream music as T Bizzy and working as a writer/producer with rumours of forthcoming cuts for mainstream artists like Michael Jackson, Brandy and Usher. Originally released as a download album in 2006, this double CD set got a limited release through Tonex's own label Nureau Ink and it's a sprawling mass of songs in a variety of styles just like we've come to expect from an artist who repeatedly refuses to be boxed in. From futuristic R&B sounds to huge dollops of sweet soul, this has straight gospel moments but also songs that draw on childhood memories. There are plenty of things on here that I love for all kinds of reasons. For me the highlights of the 24 songs are "California 2006" with its stomping groove and the vibe of "Alright". The most straightforward gospel message is on "Fail U" with its reminder that Jesus won't fail you. Like Kirk Franklin, Tonex confesses on record that he has had his struggles with masturbation and porn and is at his most vulnerable on the honest "Feelings" which is also musically brilliant with a great Karen Carpenter sample. Unfortunately, the gospel community is notorious for its unforgiving legalism and Tonex's struggles of late have not endeared him to a church audience. This is unfortunate as the ruckus he's created only adds to the pressure of an artist sorting out a life blighted by the early death of his father, the breakdown of his marriage and a number of music business issues. For me, I just wish he'd be allowed to make and release the music that's inside him since he continues to create the edgiest gospel on the planet.
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