One thing in life you can always be sure of is that you can not judge a good book by its cover. Sure, you can gain a good perception by reading the back cover, but until you delve deep into a book’s pages, you could never tell just what you are getting simply by looking at it.
The same could be said with music albums. It’s hard to justify spending twelve dollars on a CD based on clever marketing or simple word of mouth. If I were to tell you that Wayne Brady, from “Whose Line is it Anyway” fame, not only had a musical album, but a solid R&B effort at that, would you believe it? Yes that’s right, not some cushy pop album or one littered with funny improvisational songs, but one filled with soulful ballads and redone classics with just a touch of Wayne Brady’s charismatic flair. It would be a shock for someone to take notice and sign on as a believer at first sight without listening to a single tune from his debut album A Long Time Coming, but for those of us who have, we like to think that Mr. Brady has evoked the ghosts of singers past like Freddie Jackson, Anita Baker, and Alexander O’Neal. He didn’t create a record full of uninspired songs that sound like over hyped nursery rhymes, but rather one paying tribute to old fashioned adult contemporary highlighted in the mid 80’s and it shows.
A Long Time Coming is not your typical album and truly lives up to its title, and even if the idea of an R&B album still seems like a joke to you. Once you begin to take a listen, the music is definitely no laughing matter.
The album’s first single, “Ordinary,” is a poignant tale that speaks of an often overlooked, simple, everyday, ordinary love, although Wayne says it best, “There’s nothing ordinary about the way he feels.” “You and Me” is also a notable song that nods to the notion that although not married, he and his wife would always be a family as long as they shared the love of their daughter. This song, while not reported as such, could be speaking of Wayne’s recent divorce from his wife and love of his daughter, Maile. With words that could make even a coal-miner cry, Brady sings, “She’s got your eyes, and that crooked smile of mine / so there’ll always be you and I/ And though things have changed, one thing remains the same / We’ll still be a family, even if there’s no you and me.”
Brady also takes on the task of co-writer on four of the album’s twelve tracks. “F.W.B.,” a quirky song that mentions being Friends with Benefits; “Back in the Day,” and ode to the more glorious wonder years like the eighties; and “I Ain’t Movin’,” a tribute to the staying power of a good lover, are three of those four songs which provide a nice filler for the album by providing up tempo beats and clever lyrical content, with the last of those four songs being the aforementioned “You and Me.”
While making original tracks sound great through writing and his vocal prowess, Brady also plays Jesus and breathes new life into already reinvented classics. From Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do” to an impressive rendition of the Beatles “Can’t Buy Me Love,” Wayne shows his voice can be captivating without feeling pretentious. On his cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” he takes an already beautiful song and makes his one of the world’s top three versions of the remake.
All said, if solid adult contemporary music is what you are looking for, A Long Time Coming is definitely the album for you. The album is full of melodic music that is easy to digest. Overall, Wayne Brady is very convincing as a singer, and the album comes across as more than just some experimental offering.