Michael Skinner – New Arrangements
13 Tracks; 57 minutes
This is not a Blues Album. It is an eclectic mix of R&B, Funk, Jazz, Gospel, and Blues with a little 70s’ cheese thrown in. The CD really grooves with Skinner on drums and a variety of great musicians backing him up. He uses a full array of horns, piano, Hammond, harp, even synth, and a really terrific group of back-up singers.
Skinner co-wrote 10 of the 13 songs and brings about 40 years in the business to the arrangements on the CD. He has also brought along a sound or two in the background that many of you may not have heard since the 70s. But the songs work, for the most part.
The truest blues number is “Dog On A Short Leash”, but there are a few others that definitely have a large measure of Blues in their mix, notably “She’s Bona Fide”, “You Rock Me”, and “Don’t Be No Fool”.
If you like 70s style R&B, , you’ll really get off on “Something About”, “Finding My Way” and especially “Our Love Is A Good Thing” that sounds so much like 1974 that you’ll be looking for Al Green over your shoulder. And who doesn’t love Al Green?
Skinner also enjoys funk and you can hear his enthusiasm on “Is That My Baby” and “Dam Near Midnight”. The other tracks round out the musical exploration with some funk/blues fusion, jazz/blues fusion all with a wash of R&B over it.
You can tell Skinner has played as a studio musician with a lot of different artists over the years. He has absorbed the best of them, stirred them around in his creative soul and set them free on this CD.
The only track that doesn’t work in any of the genres Skinner explores on this release is, ironically, the title track. “New Arrangments”. On every track, Skinner looks for something unusual to bring into the song. On this cut, he brings in a healthy dose of 70s R&B of the camembert variety. It doesn’t really feel like it fits, the blend is off. I understand he’s going for a an updated Barry White, Soul Train groove, but it just comes across as dated.
Skinner has a very good voice and easily shifts styles from easy listening R&B to funk. He also does an above average job singing blues. If you want a bit of a walk down memory lane, this CD is a good choice. Because even with all the influences, this CD has an overall nostalgic feel. Depending on your mood, that can be a very good thing.
Skinner has taken the best of the old, added some fresh spices and indeed has come up with some very nice New Arrangements.