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I have been a fan of Bobby Womack for a good few years now and like any fan of Soul Music I can't help but see his influence on Music with some fantastic signature songs from his heyday in the 70s which are still enjoyed today. Many artists have tried to comeback after years out of the Music Business and sometimes even talented artists don't manage it yet in recent years Bobby Womack has seen a remarkable return to popularity with his work with Damon Albarn in his side project Gorillaz. In 2009 Albarn brought Womack on board for the album "Plastic Beach" He featured on two tracks "Stylo" and "Cloud Of the Unknowing". He also featured on the Gorillaz tour.
**The Bravest Man In the Universe**
After finding success with Albarn as part of Gorillaz, Womack decided to pursue Music again and was incredibly prolific writing 20 tracks in a short space of time. He again worked with Albarn who also brought in Richard Russell and they set about recording a new album. The album was released in June 2012 and has become one of the most highly rated albums of 2012. It would be the first album since 2000 and the first album of original material since 1994's Resurrection. "The Bravest Man in the Universe" was listed at #36 on Rolling Stone's list of the top 50 albums of 2012.
1.) Bravest Man In the Universe
This is a lovely opener for the album, It showcases the raw emotion which Bobby Womack is still capable of producing vocally. The sound is a departure from his previous material and that is largely thanks to Richard Russell who provides some heavy drum beats, Albarn provides sparse keys on much of the album. This track features a heavy beat throughout and is about forgiving people for their mistakes, Womack's voice is oozing with emotion here and he shows he still has a very capable voice still in there. Good start.
2.) Please Forgive My Heart
This is an excellent ballad which really benefits from the taut beat from Russell's drum machine sequence. Albarn's sparse keys are there again and this combination really goes a long way to creating the emotion of the song. Bobby Womack's voice obviously completes the emotive feel of the song. I love the simplicity of the song with a simple drum sequence and gentle keys wrapped up with the emotive vocal from Womack. This is a lovely song which was the song which got me interested in this album after seeing them perform on Later with Jools Holland.
3.) Deep River
This is a lovely simple acoustic ballad with just Bobby Womack and guitar. His voice drips with emotion here and this is a lovely moment on the album. It proves he's still got a fine voice at 68 years old and even though this is just a little interlude it works really well and would make a fantastic song if a minute or so longer. Good stuff.
4.) Dayglo Reflection" (featuring Lana Del Rey)
This is a catchy shuffler of a track featuring Lana Del Rey. Her relaxed vocals blend well with his to create a nice vocal soundstage. They may have differing vocal styles yet the song works really well. It's one of the songs on the album that experiments with a faster paced beat and a relaxed piano part which makes it sound different from the norm and works well. Lana Del Rey shines on the track with her unique style. This is a good track indeed.
5.) Whatever Happened to the Times
The song comes in with a beat which gets increasingly louder and then his vocals come in, There are just a few relatively harsh moments vocally on the album and this track features some harsher vocals than on some other tracks on the album, That's certainly not to say that his vocals are bad on this, far from it as he provides some commanding vocals throughout and only slightly faring into strained territory now and again. This is another decent track.
6.) Stupid Introlude" (featuring Gil Scott-Heron)
This is a just a short interlude that leads into the next track. It's only 21 second long so doesn't give much either way. Just enjoy the next track.
This track features not Jill Scott but Gil Scott-Heron. This is a very catchy track which features some taut beats and DJ like hooks. The lovely piano backing adds a lighter note mixed with the heavier beats and hooks. I like the catchy feel of this song and whilst it's not up there with the best tracks on the album it's certainly worth a listen.
8.) If There Wasn't Something There"
This is a lovely ballad about a relationship that you are trying to save and you'd do anything to save the relationship as you really love them. The music has an upbeat feel and some catchy hooks. Womack's vocals are emotive and flowing. The sentiment of the song is basically about when you know someone you're with also wants to save the relationship yet can't bring themselves to do everything to keep things going. It's a pretty good track.
9.) Love is Gonna Lift You up"
This is a catchy track which has some taut punchy beats which come in to start things off then the percussion and keys come in to give the song a twist. This track has a slightly dated 90s feel of a Gospel choir trying to do something tinged with reggae yet the keys add that little bit of something different to make the song worthwhile in it's form. This is an uplifting and up tempo track which has a toe tapping feel. Good stuff.
10.) Nothin' Can Save Ya (featuring Fatoumata Diawara)
This is a catchy track which features taut beats and some interesting electro sounds which add a different sound. There are some interesting vocal effects from Fatoumata Diaware which add an interesting dimension. Her natural vocals are expressive and emotive and add something nice to the song. This is a fairly decent collaboration which has several good things going for it. Not the best track on the album but certainly not bad.
11.) Jubilee (Don't Let Nobody turn You Around)
This track really is nothing like the rest of the album, It's an 80s style Club dance track with some very computerized sounds which come courtesy of Richard Russell. The vocals from Womack are flowing and he's backed well but this song doesn't hit the heights of the other songs, whether that's despite or because of the originality it's up to you to make your own judgement. It certainly ends the album on an interesting note That's for sure.
This is a very strong return from Bobby Womack. It has some fine examples of how his voice is holding up so well, It's original in it's concept thanks to the collaborations with Damon Albarn and Richard Russell as they bring an interesting new spin of things and This is a very polished product. Recently Bobby Womack admitted that he has been told he has early signs of Alzheimers which may develop and scupper any plans of a second comeback album but if this is the only album he returned with it's still a worthy album. This is one intersting album that I can say has worked out well.