Review by Angela Lester
Virginia native Jarrard Anthony’s latest, Ready to Live, is an album full of themes of intimacy and love, multiple musical influences, and a roster of guest artists that any producer would die to have on their project.
Starting with the tribal tinged intro “Opening the Way,” Anthony takes the listener on a journey of musical exploration beginning with the feel good, summer time tune “Lucky Day” which features pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs.
Continuing the journey, “Never See Her Again” is a hip hop flavored story of love through the ages featuring Anthony’s wife, Amer Amen. With an infectious beat, the song regales us with a tale of love so great, that it survives three lifetimes of reincarnation until it is finally requited through marriage.
Physical love is also explored on the CD but not in the overtly sexually, play by play way of so much current music. Anthony teases the listener in the sensual tunes “Healer” and “Blowing On Your Back,” providing fertile ground for the imagination. For those couples looking to get some time alone, “Cloud 10,” featuring PM and set to a tune suitable for steppin’, gives ideas for intimacy that include simply dancing together.
Anthony experiments with different music styles on this CD. For instance, “All Around the World,” featuring the distinctive voice of Darien, is juxtaposed against a sound reminiscent of bossa nova. While, the club tune “Invisible” is tinged with a techno beat. “I Love You” features the keyboards of jazz great Lonnie Liston Smith, the flute of Monèt, and the soul tinged vocals of fellow Virginia native Patrice Covington.
The album ends with a remix of Anthony’s 2009 tribute to black women, “Damn Sista.” This remix features Eric Roberson,Darien, John Bibbs, and Wildmann, and flips its meaning to be a fun and funky song about actual sisters.
Ready to Live has something for everyone that loves soul music. Diverse in its musical influences while maintaining neo soul flavor, it is an album that I will revisit often.
(2012 JAPMEG Inc/NIA)