THROWBACK REVIEW: Anita Baker - Giving You The Best That I Got

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Sitting in my hotel in Agadir, Morocco at 2am looking for something smooth to play through the night and I came across Anita Bakers 1988 album which is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is only 8 tracks long but don’t let that deter you, there is more music in those 8 tracks than there in most albums full stop.

The music is a master-class of Soul and R&B, respecting its Jazz routes. Vocally, Anita is exemplary on every track, demonstrating amazing range and control. But the most striking thing while listening to this album is how much its moves you emotionally; transfiguring you into her experiences. This is song-writing at its most honest glorious point as Anita takes us on a trip through her hopes, fears and aims in love. It reminds me that actually, this was always the point of music for me; some special artists are just blessed with the awesome job of teaching us about how to love in its fullest expression by sharing their experiences.

The album starts off with ‘Priceless’. It begins with soulful and uplifting chords reminiscent of Franky Beverly & Maze, and flows into a powerful expression of the pricelessness of love. Something wonderful takes place in the heart when you hear these lyrics “You are so priceless to me, you’re like the first rainfall in spring... with your love, I can do most anything”. This is a strong successful woman at the top of her game spreading love and teaching us what true strength is.

Indeed the next song is titled, ‘Lead Me Into Love’ which begins with gorgeous piano chords that calm the soul before the magical ballad ensues. The mixture of harmonies in the chorus and lead vocals is a divine mixture that keeps the track interesting throughout. As if we weren’t chilled enough, the title track brings us into peace. The mixture of piano and electric piano sounds creates strong contrast that layers well with the laid back bass guitar and lightly tapped rim shot from the drum kit. Again the subject of the song is aimed at trying to learn to love with everything you have, a topic most artists these days wouldn’t dare to touch.

As we’re led deeper into the love experience we come to an exotic slow jam ‘Good Love’ which is beautifully detailed by exotic synthesiser sound design. Again we have electric piano contrasting acoustic piano. “I wanna know what good love feels like, I want a love that’s sure to stand the test of time”. Both this track and the following ‘Rules’ remind me of Rod Temperton who wrote ‘Lady In My Life’ for Michael Jackson’s Thriller album.

‘Good Enough’ delves slightly further into Jazz with a Bossa Nova style drum beat and saxophone coming into the picture. To hear such an amazing woman sing “I hope you think I’m good enough” is just life; its vulnerable, it’s humble, it’s beautiful.

‘Just Because’ is a feel good proclamation of love, “I love you just because you’re you”.  The sheer purity of the love described builds a warmth inside.

'You Belong To Me' the last track on the album, is the only to abandon acoustic drums for drum machine sounds and also features an analog synth bassline which gives the track a more stapled 80’s sound, but of the classy variety, and this variation gives the album another ear tweak. This album is R&B and Soul at its best, and definitely one to check out. 9/10 

 

Christopher Pottinger