We all knew of Wayne Brady from Who’s Line Is It Anyway and some other appearances, but it wasn’t until Dave Chappelle’s skit that the community really stood up and took notice. While we weren’t looking, Wayne was working as a singer in Japan and perfecting his craft. After he got back and tore up the spot at Who’s Line he was pegged as the “white-black” guy, thus the Chappelle skit. I guess that’s what happens when you’re largely non controversial and talented. He took his talents to the booth and made this Grammy nominated album that much like the majority of his career, our folks have slept on. Consider this write up the alarm clock.
The stronger portion of this album seems to hinge on Love and all of it’s romantic ideals. Ordinary was the single from this album that focused on the everyday regular type of relationships and being comfortable with that. There was nothing spectacular about this track, as ironic as that sounds, but it was a well done introduction to Wayne and his musical style. Can’t Buy Me Love is a popular remake that is more than just a kareoke performance on this album. Wayne manages to really make this song his own and keep the spirit of the song true. He turns up the heat and sings in a lower register on Sweetest Berry where he quips “you’re the sweetest berry on the vine.” Lyrically, there is some cliche wordplay but it all seems to work on this soft love melody. Completely switching the tone but staying in the same theme, Make Heaven Wait is a song about losing a love and trying to cope with displaced feelings. This song really has a late 80′s feel to it with the song structure and background work, but it’s a really good song that would be perfect for a stage play or movie.
The other songs on the album range but some really stand out more than others. F.W.B. stands for Friends With Benefits. My country folks would call this a “mannish” song, but I call it an honest song…and mannish. “Whatever you need, baby I can be. And I got no strings to complicate things darlin. Can’t you see, both of us are grown, got needs of our own. Baby, let’s be FWB.” The track is a bit of a grab from a previous era and includes some serious bass work and 70′s influenced instrumentation that give this song a great groove and personality. Naturally is probably the most contemporary, radio ready song on the album. He sings in that sing/talk/rap hybrid that seems to be the current style nowadays and in a time when we are pushing false beauty with injections and surgery’s Wayne reminds his woman that she’s beautiful, naturally. Back In The Day is one of my favorites because it’s probably one of the most complete songs on the album. From the track to the lyrics, it’s a throwback to the 80′s and growing up in love and having fun. Playing games outside until the lights came on, commodore 64, kisses on the cheeks, Thundercats, Jerhi Curls, friendship bracelets, Cosby Show…I could go on and on, but he does a better job of painting the picture on the song. For those of you that are looking for an excuse to dance, this would be your favorite song.
The absolute best song on the album is his remake of A Change Is Gonna Come, the Sam Cooke classic. Unlike the previous remake I mentioned, he didn’t change this one much at all. I honestly wondered if it was just the original version placed on his album. The fact that it is so similar to the original doesn’t bother me at all. Some songs are executed perfectly and any attempt to change them will hinder our ability to hear it honestly. This song can’t really be done any other way except maybe acoustically by the right singer, but that aside, this version is just as amazing as the original, and that’s saying a lot.
There was a time when actors had to be able to act and sing and since that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, Wayne Brady’s ability to do both plus throw in comedy makes him a real commodity to the game. This album was unfortunately slept on to the extent that some folks didn’t even know it came out. If you enjoy good music, this is a really good album to pick up. As far as debuts go, it’s better than most with only a few songs that cold have been better. While the majority of America laughs at the line “Is Wayne Brady gon’ hafta choke a b*tch”, cop the album and find out how he really feels about women and love.
Soulections: “A Change Is Gonna Come”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Sweetest Berry”, “F.W.B.”, “Naturally”