g’Beau’s The Tears is, in a word, vapid. In a few more words — derivative, pretentious and pedestrian formulaic neo-soul. In fact, it’s pretty insulting to the era of R&B pop that it does a slickly, polished hackneyed job of ripping off and the seminal, groundbreaking artists of that day and age, the 1960s, when greats like Jackie Wilson, Curtis Mayfield and their peers uniquely enriched the radio airwaves.
What they have done to the timeless “A Woman, A Lover, A Friend” is a travesty. The immortal Jackie “Mr. Excitement” Wilson recorded this priceless ballad in a powerful voice with heartrending passion. Here, it’s performed with ersatz warbling fit for a Las Vegas lounge. The interpretation is anemic. That goes as well for his covers of The Beatles’ classic ballad “If I Fell” and Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are”.
The originals are nothing to phone home about either. “The Rock,” featuring somebody called Celafreq, is a pathetic attempt to ramp things up with Larry Graham-Prince style funk that falls flat on its face, courtesy of cliched lyrics and, now, two sorry singers with shallow voices, instead of one, wailing and shrieking in faux funkster posturing.
“Taboo,” a poor approximation of Barry White arranging, showcases limp, feckless harmonizing behind g’Beau trying to wax sexy intimate with clumsy lines like “Oooh. Yeah. I like the things that are taboo. That’s why I think I like you. ‘Cause you’re a thing I shouldn’t do.” Please. This sort of sophomoric tripe is what a fumbling teenager might come up with — unsuccessfully at that — in the effort to talk holes in someone’s clothes. Any woman witless enough to go for a grown man spewing this silliness automatically qualifies for Bimbo of the Year.
The musicians backing this guy up, including legendary drummer Michael Bland, don’t lack for chops. And giving even the devil his due, g’Beau plays creditable guitar and keyboards. That’s not the point. What’s salient is that there is no substance to what’s going on, to the main man, himself: all the fire power in the world won’t do any good if you can’t hit your target. And g’Beau misses by a mile. Consistently overproduced, characterized by weak, whining vocals The Tears is a collection of wholly dispensable tracks.
The long and the short of it is that artists of this fraudulent caliber — regardless of genre — come a nickel a bushel, slickly polished, exploiting authentic music, and should be avoided like the plague.
Related: For another view of the album, see Logan Adams’ review, also in the Daily Planet.