Phil Perry | Say Yes
By Peggy Oliver
No matter how experienced, appreciated and in-demand a musician or singer occasionally the artistic drought hits them a ton of bricks. After releasing his solo album released around 9/11, Magic, Phil Perry faced that mountain. For those who may not be as familiar with Perry’s resume, he had already etched a reputation as one of the most popular background vocalists with a body of work that included Barbara Streisand, Chaka Khan, and Lee Ritenour, amongst many others. Thanks to popular producer Chris ‘Big Dog’ Davis, he talked the veteran singer/songwriter into returning to the solo fold. Though the draught was around a half-dozen years, a roadblock in some performers’ career momentum, Perry’s ability to mold back in the day material into his own mesmerizing way has always kept him in the musical game. Perry’s one-two punch with Davis has produced several disc surrounding love and romance, beginning in 2006 with the appropriately entitled Classic Love Songs.
Now logging in his fifth solo album guided by Davis for Shanachie Entertainment, Perry zeroes in on his familiar musical stomping ground of love and romance with Say Yes, a mix of standards and original tunes. Perry is usually at his finest when it comes to the former. “We used to stand out on the street and sing this,” declares Perry about the Sam Cooke smash, “You Send Me.” After Perry opens with how they used to sing it back then, the orchestration is then flipped to a bumpy mid-tempo groove with do-wop backing voices. “You Belong to Me,” made famous by Carly Simon, provides a sleek jazzy groove, layered with scratching and caressing guitars. “Where is the Love,” one of Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s biggest hits, features Chante Moore and Perry dabbling in sweet adlibs towards the climax. Perry especially excels at gospel and exercises this attribute with the Simon and Garfunkel inspirational trademark, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Kevin Porter and friends lend classy yet jubilant vocal support.
Though the original selections are not as favorable compared to the aforementioned, Perry’s sensitive and solid voice carries the load. Perry and Najee’s impeccable phrasing and interaction add an extra love kick to “Tonight Just Me and You.” The oriental-flavored, “Peel the Veil,” is an entertaining tale of a mysterious woman who woos her lover. “Can’t Hide Love” (also w/Najee) that conveys a roller-coaster love relationship, glides on a soft yet catchy samba: “You will say you need me/Yet we have no trust/And when we are making love/The love is making us.”
Though Say Yes has a few bumpy spots, Perry and the supporting players competently handle their business as a whole. At this point, there is a need in foreseeing Perry developing another artistic block anytime soon. Four out of five stars.
The Urban Music Scene