CD REVIEW: Living Proof - Feel Good Music
By Levi Canfield
Weakness: Dated Feeling to some songs, Lack of Depth to album as whole
With 7 large, Living Color are a Jazz/R&B force. The troop hail from Indianapolis. where they are credited as one of the most requested club fillers. Burning up the scene, they have racked up many awards for themselves in the mid-west circuit. Veterans of their sport, Living Color has been supplying the funk since 2001. Even opening for acts such as Earth, Wind, & Fire, Chicago, Morris Day & The Time, and K.C. and the Sunshine Band. With only their sophomore album, they brilliantly fuse Pop, Hip-hop, Jazz, R&B, and any other genre bending you can imagine. Overall creating an original, but undeniably catchy record to keep that party going to the wee hours of night.
Feel Good Music at its heart is exactly what its name would imply. An album of funkadelic melodies and bass riffs to keep anybody within earshot tapping or grooving with the rhythm. The song sharing the albums name, “Feel Good Music”, flourishes with simple, yet intricate melodies from all the members in the band. Funky Guitar Beats, Bouncing Trumpets, Harmonious Vocals, and Handclaps put together everything Living Proof are good at, in one easy and accessible package. It lets the listener observe the palette Living Proof uses before the portrait is drawn. After “Feel Good Music”, the album drives forward with the delicious “Sway”, which raps and swaggers like the best of them. Showing the confidence and power Living Proof hold behind them. Not only are they earnestly trying their hardest to get you moving, they know they can do it. It’s just a matter if the audience is ready. This exact confidence poured through out the album generates the immense self-assurance that keep this record flowing. From there the album explores everything from full funk out instrumentals (“2 West”), to soulful singing from Jessica Patterson that touches the heart (“Nobody”), and beautiful R&B duets (“Dance With Me”). Essentially, creating a melting pot from all the various influences on this album.. Every song’s expertly crafted with strategic time changes, simple and powerful lyrics, and the infectious hunger to keep the listener tuned in. Along with expert songwriting and colorful jams, the succinct production manages to keep the sound clean and crisp without letting the panache of production gloss over the music. Along with being creative artists out on the stage, Living Color knows how to mold that perfect sound onto a record as well. All self-produced by themselves, this is no simple feat done in a small studio recorded for 100$ out of Indianapolis.
Despite being beautiful, all the elegant R&B songs in the world aren’t enough to bust into the MTV scene without a lot of exposure. Suited more fore a raucous evening in a Jazz Pub, Living Color are not going to be hitting the top 20 anytime soon. They seem to have a clear focus for the music, and playing it onstage for their direct audience. This strong drive to bring the funk doesn’t help much for a large range commercial appeal. Even though the music is strong enough to sell itself, the strong sensation that the band is not doing their hardest to get their sound out puts a sliver in the lions paw. How are people supposed to hear your work if you are not getting it out to them? Even though tearing up the local club scene and getting rave reviews from press is good, its not enough to push a small time R&B litter into the limelight. Living Color leans more towards the live performance side, rather than the recording side. Even though sounding good on record, Feel Good Music is probably something that needs to be experienced in person. The album lacks the depth that the living performance would give. In the end, it’s still an album for parties. Not meant to change lives with the beautiful lyrics, or evoke life changing decisions.
In the end, Feel Good Music is deliciously full of beats and funk to keep your hears pricked up from the first intro club opening to the last super bowl sway remix. Over 13 Songs, the band tours its audience through probably their most solid set-list, performing each and every song like a well oiled machine. While many bands generally sound better on record than live, I believe Living Color is the opposite. Going out to see them live is only going to improve on their genuine, honest R&B movement. Living Color, even though only on their 2nd album, are veterans at their art and should revel in the fact this is one damn good album. It definitely will have you at least feeling better by the end of it.Levi Canfield
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