Kristy Love Brooks – The Soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll
Fifteen songs may sound excessive, but Kristy Love Brooks makes her pass through a variety of stylistic masks quite believable and never tests listener’s patience. The songs on The Soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll are supremely well crafted numbers with inspired performances all around, but centering on the unique and deep running talents of Kristy Brooks. She takes on classic soul and R&B sounds with prodigious ease, but she also proves her mettle as a vocalist using her voice with island/Caribbean flavors and even rock with convincing results. She’s experienced success and critical appreciation as more than a recording artist and songwriter; Brooks has found appreciation as an actress, writer, playwright, and educator. She wears these many hats with the same intellience and distinctiveness embodied by each of the songs on this spectacular release. The Soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll delves just as deeply into the soul of Kristy Love Brooks and it’s a mesmerizing journey.
“Keep Believing/Believe In Yourself” deserves the attention its received so far as one of the album’s brightest burning efforts. Brooks throws herself wholeheartedly into this performance and never loses the opportunity to fully exploit the potential present in this anthemic opener. It strongly invokes her R&B influences and those only become more obvious with many of the succeeding tracks. “Without You” fakes a pure shot of R&B before transitioning into a funky hybrid with glittery guitars and a satisfying amount of melody while “Good to See You” and “Love is On My Mind” conjure stylish R&B soundscapes that unwind for listeners with great artistry. The careful orchestration making each of these songs work never sounds unnatural. “Get Smooth” shows she has more than a little facility with great dance pop and inhabits the synth-driven arrangement with notably contrasting authority. The presence of backing vocals aren’t across the board on The Soul of Rock n Roll, but there make a difference with songs like this and help them get over even more with their intended audience.
“Touch Me” is some more straight R&B with a much more live band sound than we get from a number of the album’s songs and it’s further colored with recurring keyboard flourishes. It’s, lyrically, in a similar vein to the earlier “Love Is on My Mind”, but there’s less stylistic preciousness here than other songs. “Rainbow of Love” takes another surprising turn on an album that’s full of them, if you give it a careful listen, and takes on a convincing near-reggae sound without ever sounding like the singer or band are straining for effect. It doesn’t have quite the same visceral live sound as “Touch Me”, but it’s close. “Coming Home – A Soldier’s Story” could have ended up a self-conscious, hackneyed wreck, but once again, Brooks’ long experience with song craft saves the day and, instead, makes this one of the more moving performances you’ll hear on The Soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll. This is an album that, on every track, you can tell means a great deal to Kristy Love Brooks and that passion makes it an infectious listening experience.