After The Storm was the album that initially caught our attention. Norman Brown's style was the R&B fans' type of Jazz. A little funk, great slow jams, vocals, and great interpretations of the remakes. That was 1994, and this is 2020. Heart To Heart is Brown's latest release, as it drops on August 7th. This is his 12th recording, and he really gets back to those smooth sounds that made him a mainstay in the Smooth Jazz scene.
Brown invited some of his friends to the party, as Peter White, Jeff Lorber, and Paul Brown, are among the artists that contribute to the project.
Let's get into it!
Review - 'Heart To Heart' by Norman Brown
The album begins with the first single, Heading Wes. This is a track that is a tribute to Brown's father, while also paying homage to the legendary Wes Montgomery. In addition to the guitars, the horns are front and center. Brown's signature style is strumming that guitar at a rapid pace over a slower groove. He is in full effect here.
The title track, Heart To Heart is up next. Peter White guests, and you can hear that familiar 'spanish guitar', and it sounds so fine. I just might need an entire album of these two playing together. This should be the second single of the album.
Unconditional picks up the pace, and Jeff Lorber makes an appearance on the track. Everything is working here. Brown starts us off, and Lorber entertains us in the second verse. The horns are right there with the fills, and the bass is workin' it. You gotta love this one.
If you want a song that will hit the spot on a Sunday afternoon, then take a listen to Amen. Chris 'Big Dog' Davis has his fingerprints all over this track. He plays most of the instruments, and there is definitely a purpose to Brown's guitar play. The string section sounds really great, and we love the fact that the song has a slow build throughout, and it peaks toward the end.
Just Groovin' is just that. Paul Brown is featured and Norman Brown immediately takes command with that unmistakable sound. This is truly reminiscent of some of his older releases. You will be groovin' in your seat.
I cannot lie...The intro to Brighter My Light Shines sounded a little like Funny How Time Flies..from Janet Jackson. The track then took a right turn and steered back into the slow funk lane. Everything is working here, especially the piano parts. You will also enjoy the drums on this track, and be sure to pay attention to the percussion, more specifically, those shakers.
She's Mine is up next. The keyboards really stand out here, as Jeff Lorber is really doing his thing. Brown keeps up, and the end result is a really fine jam session.
In I Miss Your Groove, Brown takes us on a trip that is first class all the way. It really seems like Brown is giving us one really long guitar solo. We are definitely not mad at that. This is really a funky track.
Brown changes up the vibe a little with Ocean Breeze. We love the hook, and the keyboards really hit the spot. If you want to know what Smooth Jazz sounds like in 2020, this is it.
Paul Jackson Jr. plays some rhythm guitar on Keep The Faith. Paul Jackson and Norman Brown on the same track? Just close your eyes and enjoy the music, as there is really nothing else to say about it.
The set concludes with Outside The Norm. We absolutely love this track. Electric guitar throughout. Brown seems to be invoking his inner Jimi Hendrix. Clocking in at 8 1/2 minutes, the song is a showcase of Brown's high-level skills. We are sure you will enjoy this.
The hardcore Norman Brown fans, or Normantics as he calls them, will jump all over this album. The listeners that are new to the genre will enjoy the music. Everybody else will probably add a few of these tracks to their favorite playlists. Heart To Heart is pure entertainment.
Be sure to give it a listen.