November 1st, 2016
Artist: After 7
Label: Entertainment One
Formats: CD, MP3
Release date: October 14, 2016
Vocal group After 7 returns after an eleven year hiatus with their album Timeless. On this new outing the core members of the group, Kevon & Melvin Edmonds and Keith Mitchell, are joined by Melvin’s son Jason Edmonds. As with their previous offerings, the group’s smooth vocal harmonies are front and center and Jason fits right in without missing a beat.
Timeless begins with arguably its strongest track, “Running Out,” which would be right at home with the best “Quiet Storm” grooves of the 1980s. Despite the fact that they use various sound effects, the strength of the vocalists shine through and the music is fantastic. The track definitely has a few Atlantic Starr vibes. “Running Out” is one of the many songs on the album written by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. It is clear from this jam that Babyface has in no way lost his touch and might very well be the producer heir apparent to Quincy Jones, should he ever decide to go that route.
Another highlight on the album is “I Want You,” which has been making the rounds as a single. On this Babyface penned track the fellas creatively share lead, switching between vocalists on each line. After 7 sounds exceptionally energized here and the track is all the better for it. Following is another single from the album, “Let Me Know”:
The themes throughout the album are, as you’d expect, love, relationships, and desire. This is stanchly “grown folks music,” with perspectives on these themes that are more in tune with the “Grown and Sexy” than their younger counterparts. The production volleys between the aforementioned Quiet Storm and soft rock elements. A couple of the tracks definitely put me in a “Human Nature”/”Africa” (Toto references) space and that is not at all a bad thing.
The album concludes with two covers. After 7 definitely does a good job with The Stylistics’ “Bet You By Golly Wow,” although it does not reach the heights of their “Baby I’m For Real/Natural High” cover from years back. “Home” is a strong closer and ends the album with a bit of a meditative tone.
Black Grooves has a special connection to the group After 7. Members Kevon and Keith both attended Indiana University in the late ‘70s and were members of the IU Soul Revue, a live performance ensemble that tours around the country performing songs from the Black American Songbook, past and present. Both Keith and Kevon cite their time with the IU Soul Revue as a major influence on their respective careers in music. Furthermore, both the IU Soul Revue and Archives of African American Music and Culture were founded by Dr. Portia K. Maultsby, who mentored countless students over the years.
Overall it is great to have After 7 back doing their thing. The smooth sounds of Timeless also reinforce the fact that Babyface has not lost a step in his production work.
Reviewed by Levon Williams
Review Genre(s): Rhythm & Blues, Soul, Funk