Last year I was going through a big book of CDs. There were a couple of Christmas compilations, the usual early children stuff, movie soundtracks, show tunes and some classical music. A lot of the music was stuff my parents were into when they were younger. So there were appearances by Phil Collins, Bette Midler, Milli Vanilli (got to be a collector's item, right?) and the Backstreet Boys (okay, that one was mine).
The one CD that I started listening to was this one.
Bolton is pretty much a joke nowadays, and his style of music died with the Berlin Wall. He is also kind of limited as a vocalist, and it is pretty easy to make fun of his husky, shouty style.
However, there is something about this album that I like.
When I listen to music from this time, it conjures up a very specific era between 1988-1993. I can barely remember it, but if I hear music (The Bodyguard soundtrack) or watch a movie from that time period (Home Alone 2 is a big one, for some reason) that I associate with growing up I get transported right back.
It's a weird kind of 'not-stalgia'. Maybe it's the late 80s production. Compared with the overly techno approach of most of today's pop music, there's something warm and appealing about Soul Provider. And maybe it is the cynicism of the age we live in but there's something charming about the overt sentimentality of the songs and Bolton's delivery. It's so po-faced and sincere it can come off as laughable, yet that's part of the charm.
Let's break it down.
The album starts with my favourite track off the album, 'Soul Provider'. It's basically Bolton's mission statement and distills him to his sentimental essence. It's got sax, it's got guttural rambling, it sounds exactly like you think it sounds. It's great.
'Georgia On My Mind' is where I get off the Bolton Train and join the resistance crew trying to blow it off the tracks. My main problem is that it's Bolton singing the song EXACTLY the same way as the original version. And Bolton, while he's good with a cheesy ballad, is garbage with anything else.
'Only My Heart' cements the album's turn into Schmaltzville. It's boring and repetitive. It's the kind of overly maudlin tripe you expect Bolton to sing and it's as dumb as it sounds.
And on and on it goes.
The only other song that sticks out above the dross is 'You Wouldn't Know Love'. It has a bit more energy to it, and is more of a cheesy eighties rock song. It's not great, but I have a special fondness for those kinds of songs.
Other than that, the album is stock late eighties pop-soul. If you're looking for a better example of this style, check out Keith Washington's Make Time For Love.
One of these days I need to do a more extensive review of that one.
Why did I review this again?