For an R&B vocalist to capture your attention even before you catch the melody is a testament to the strength and full-bodied presence of that vocalist. Newcomer Gianna Welling (aka Gianna) is such a vocalist. Her debut release, Something True, produced in large part by the superb R&B/smooth jazz duo Kloud 9, has a distinct air and quality that was instantly alluring to me. Then came the melodies: At once and in varying spots classy, bouncy, reflective, and neatly arranged.
While mostly in an R&B vein, gentle tones of smooth jazz subtly edge their way in on this attractive production. Gianna’s voice seems to gently ride the wave of the music like a surfer in a manageable current. The two elements definitely complement each other. Evidence of this can be found in the opening track, as well as in the soulful and enticing “In You” and the Kloud 9-like phrasings and dance grooves in “Maybe I Can Be” and the title track. My favorite tune, “The Things That I Do” is a magnetic and magical charmer sporting an unpretentious but lively hook that you’ll sing to yourself over and over again.
Another handsome track, “Took the Last Train” adds the cool, calming effect of a touch of flute, acoustic guitar, a very catchy hook, sweet verses, and an interesting bridge to create a collage of sound that’s hard to resist. There’s also the treat of some smooth handling of Basia’s “Time and Tide.” Nice touch with the sax. The album closes with an up-tempo dance number, “One Step Closer,” that somewhat resembles the movers and shakers found on albums by the British jazz group, Shakatak.
Much of the material here is not overwhelming with the tricks of the studio but, rather, very well-balanced with well-placed horns and solid rhythms and bass lines. It’s R&B sparingly laced with the special comeliness of smooth jazz. Only a voice laced with a satiny touch can enhance such a project. Gianna does so nicely and effectively.Posted by Ronald Jackson at August 2, 2009 5:07 PM