How often have you found yourself saying "They don't do records like this anymore" after you've listened to some vintage Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway or Marvin Gaye? Well, here's the good news for you! They still do records like this. At least Frank McComb does it with The Truth. Those in the know certainly will remember him as a member of Branford Marsalis' Buckshot LeFonque project or recall his debut album Love Stories. Released in 2000 by Columbia/Sony, Love Stories was a brilliant, more introverted relaxed album that combined soul and jazz and showed what a good singer/songwriter Frank is. But, alas, Sony dropped Frank soon after the release of the album and so without any promotion only few people became aware of him and bought the album. But Frank hasn't been idle since he lost his contract with Sony. In 2001 he recorded some songs with I.G. Culture for his New Sector Movements album Download This (Anthem & The Sun). And then there's the obscure never released album, that Frank has done for Motown, from which Golden Lady (yes, the Stevie Wonder song) was released on Expansion's Soul Togetherness 2002 compilation.
The Truth features ten songs (plus a remix of Shine) and brings back soul music's halycon days when you not only had good music but also lyrics with a meaning plus some sweet love songs.
The opener Shine is a good example of such a love song. Accompanied by lush instrumentation (Fender Rhodes, flutes and harp amongst others) Frank tells us how he falls in love with the perfect one. Shine comes in two versions, one with over seven minutes being more vintage soul the other, the Bonus Mix, being a little more nu soul inspired.
Whatcha Gonna Do is a funky song with the Earth Wind & Fire Horns and Ledisi on background vocals. Lyrics like 'Judge me not by the clothes that I wear/ Pardon me, I don't appreciate your stare/ I'm so tired of the way that people do/ Their insecurities - puttin' their stuff on you/.../It's time for me to tell the truth/ It's not what you say but what you do' only add to the vintage overall feeling of The Truth.
There are also some inspiring lyrics on the funky midtempo groove of Fools, that tells us about a 'nobody knows you when you're down and out' kinda situation: 'It's always the ones you least expect/ That'll turn their backs on you/ When their way they can't get/ When things were good, family and many friends I had/ but, when everything went soutbound/ They talked about me so bad/ But, it made me a man and I know where I stand' So there's still hope that even a bad situation can have its good sides resulting in personal growth.
Practically speaking, I could go on raving about each song on The Truth like the ultra soulful Never Letting Go or the string-laden ballad When You Call My Name (written by Donnie) and telling you that each song is a purist's dream coming true (and it really isn't a lie) and has been perfectly produced by Steve 'The Scotsman' Harvey. But in conclusion I just pick one of the two songs here that has been recorded before, namely Better Off Without You. Some of you may remember Brigette McWilliams sophomore album Too Much Woman from 1997 on which Brigette also sang Better Off Without You, a song she had co-written with Frank. Frank's version is a great soulful song with Frank on Wurlitzer piano and Billy Preston on Hammond B3 organ. (The other song is Actions Speak Louder Than Words that appeared also on Brigette's album)
If you ever see and hear this album and don't want to own it, you're either deaf or already dead...so make sure that you'll find out everything about The Truth soon. If you only buy a few albums this year (or any year) make sure this is amongst them.
(for more information visit themalibusessions.com, frankmccombmusic.com and expansionrecords.com)