It was 1995, and former Gap Band singer Charlie Wilson was in a rehabilitation program for drug abuse. When asked by a social worker what he would do once the program ended, he broke down in tears. He was homeless. He had nowhere to go.
One year later, Wilson was approached by iconic rapper Snoop Dogg, to work on some of the rapper’s albums. Almost 10 years later, Wilson has released his seventh album — “Forever Charlie.”
With “Forever Charlie,” Wilson has made a brave move, abandoning the formula that won him a Grammy for Best R&B Performance in 2012, with his mega-hit, “You Are.”
The album opens with “Somebody Loves You,” a refreshing, upbeat song that echoes the stylings of his material with The Gap Band. Like most great R&B music, the song has a great, catchy melody.
Moving right into “Touched By An Angel,” the album continues with a classic vibe. The song can be compared to iconic songs from R&B greats, such as Marvin Gaye or Luther Vandross.
Though synthesizers and other digital instrumentation are almost a standard in modern music, this album doesn’t rely on that, trading some of the technology for more guitars and horns.
Fans of Wilson’s formula from recent releases will be pleased with songs like “Goodnight Kisses,” the album’s first single. Though not breaking with the album’s new sound, the song contains elements of Wilson’s previous albums.
“Unforgettable” takes Wilson into the reggae territory, with fellow artist, Shaggy, making a guest appearance. Listeners will recognize Shaggy’s voice from the song “Angel,” released in 2001. The song is certainly one of the most diverse in Wilson’s career, and is one of the many enjoyable elements of this album.
When it comes to guest appearances, the album doesn’t stop there. What would a Wilson album be without Snoop Dogg? Fortunately, we don’t have to think about that, as Snoop Dogg grooves with Wilson in the appropriately-titled, “Infectious.”
In true Wilson fashion, the album closes with a romantic song, “Me and You Forever.” Though any song on the album would make a good closing number, this one serves the purpose just fine. It’s smooth, as it should be.
“Forever Charlie” is, in my opinion, the most authentic-feeling album Wilson has released. Though there’s more to his career than The Gap Band, this album embraces those roots in a way that compliments and respects his new sound.Wilson is one of the few vocalists that is instantly recognizable, at the beginning of a song. Perhaps that’s why he’s been called-upon to sing on so many songs and albums. Every genre goes through phases, and only a few artists from each era can stand the test of time. Charlie Wilson is one of those artists.
“Forever Charlie” is available in stores and online. For more information, visit www.charliewilsonmusic.com