Like an old friend in a comfortable sweater or a favorite pair of loafers, it’s always good to see them and reflect on good memories. Such is the case here for smooth vocalist Phil Perry. You call it a cover record, I call it visiting old friends. “We were going for identifiability (on the classic cover songs),” Phil says. “Just because you cover a classic doesn’t mean you should lose yourself and what you are as an artist. I think that’s what separates any ‘classic’ endeavor we undertake from anyone else who is doing covers. We respect, then add.” For years he has amazed me with both his range and the amazing ability to basically “play” is voice. The ten tracks here offer both comfort and style.
The classic “You Send Me” will become a favorite right away as Perry plays off the falsetto as well as the mellow tones. He begins in the classic style of Sam Cooke to only give way to a more contemporary result. I love the transition. His voice is as smooth as ever and you’ll be singing this one for a long time. Special guest Chanté Moore helps out on “Where Is the Love” as the two of them play off each other really well. Followed by the sax of Najee on “Tonight Just Me and You.” I love what he does with the Michael McDonald classic “You Belong To Me.” The added guitar as well as background vocals adds a lot of depth. The arrangement is a little different and makes it really interesting. He slows it down a little for the title track as things begin to heat up. Later he dead pans the opening of “The Long and Winding Road” as only Paul McCartney can. The uncanny opening gives way to Perry’s interpretation of the Beatles classic. This one continues to build until the end, and Phil really knocks it out of the park here.
He slows it again once more for “Peel the Veil” as his voice takes front and center once more. Najee joins him on the flute, and is featured extensively on “Can’t Hide Love.” He finishes the project with a choral inspired “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” This is probably the best cut, and the best arrangement of this Simon and Garfunkel classic that I have ever heard. It is a great one to finish on.
I’m always amazed when I listen to Phil Perry perform. It is very enjoyable to hear him revisit some old friends here and re-do some of the classics. Says Perry, “We try to keep the classic essence while allowing me to be the artist that I am. What that means is singing the melody without it being sterile, inserting new background ideas and different instrumentation to contemporize the sound without removing the essence of classic R & B.” He pulls it off well, like the old sweater that takes you to that comfortable place. Check out Say Yes real soon.