Review: Ronald Isley, ‘This Song Is For You’


Ronald Isley⎪ This Song Is For You ⎪ eOne ⎪⎪ US Release Date: July 16, 2013

631e9b50-2fd2-40c4-adaf-2962059082d8“La dee da da da…”.  Sigh – and the ladies swoon.  That’s that Ronald Isley signature vocal run that has graced us for years and years, not to mention that falsetto that is unmatched by, well anybody really.  On his third solo album, This Song Is For You, Ron’s still got it – or at least most of it.  At 72, the vocal performances that he puts together are more impressive than many of the young bucks trying to make a classic – #RealTalk.  That said, This Song Is For You doesn’t end up being a classic or memorable when stacked against the Isley Bros’ humongous classics or even their contemporary hits like Eternal or Body Kiss where Ron was the prominent figure anyways.  Like 2010 effort Mr. I, Ron just meets or slightly misses the mark, which is ok but doesn’t necessarily add any more weight to the Isley legacy.

This Song Is For You” begins with promise, with Isley flexing his vocal muscles over adult contemporary R&B production work.  Sure, it’s not an ‘instant classic’, but it is quite enjoyable and makes you tap your foot. Single “Dinner and a Movie” is also going int he adult R&B vein with it’s teenage, old-school courtship (“Hello, hello girl, what’s your name? / I was thinking maybe we do dinner and a movie”), yet it still is contemporary and hip enough for the younger generation.  Maybe I don’t count since I’m young with an ‘old soul’, but regardless, this twentysomething is onboard.  Kem helps a brother out on “My Favorite Thing” which is good, not quite great.  There’s nothing wrong with the message (“Come home to me, girl / I need you / I know it’s hard to see / your love will always be my favorite babe…”) or the vocals, but the track feels sorta, ‘old hat’.  It’s still ‘cool’, but certainly has no room to act all ‘brand new’. LOL!

d6f43935-3bde-4e7b-96f2-1fced09672bbAnyways, on “The Boss” Isley is not bragging of his fortunes as Rick Ross or Young Jeezy might.  Instead, he centers the whole song around her being the boss. One intelligent man, right? He has some notable vocal moments along the way, but the song is only OK.  “Bed Time” falls into the same trap. The number a ‘grinder’, appropriate given the sensual vibe Mr. Biggs is going for.  He literally goes “Between The Sheets” on “Another Night”, which samples the ‘80s Isley Bros track liberally.  I’m a fan of sampling, particularly when done extremely well, but “Another Night” makes me long for “Between The Sheets” which I’m sure is not the intended effect.  But atonement arrives via “Lay You Down”, which is co-written and features R&B standout Trey Songz.  Don’t call it the ‘second coming’ because it ain’t, but it infuses some more ‘oomph’ back into This Song Is For You.

Reunion” can’t quite match “Lay You Down”, but Mr. Biggs gets his point across that “it’s time for a reunion” (in regards to love, etc.).  He’s better served on “He Won’t Ever Love You”, a cut exhibiting a ‘tried-and-true’ theme.  Sure it’s old hat as well, but Isley ‘sangs’ it well, throwing in some excellent grit towards the end as he ad libs.  Things unfortunately fall off after this.  “Better or Worse” is definitely worse, mostly because it’s a bore.  The continual relaxed tempo doesn’t aid in excitability either.  Bryan Michael Cox and Kendrick Dean deliver solid production work on “Let’s Be Alone” that stimulates the listening experience –  well for a little bit.  At over four and half minutes, “Let’s Be Alone” sorta makes the listener wanna be e5ac00e1-2f4d-47fe-a072-e50bafdc9a8e‘alone’… from the music.  “Make Love To Your Soul” is an ‘appropriate’ closer, but that doesn’t make it thrilling, cause it’s not.  Average or mediocre at best.

Verdict? On the one hand, you gotta respect Ronald Isley’s hustle given his VIP music status and the fact he’s still doing the thang at 72. On the other hand, as a huge fan, you wish that Isley would reunite with Ernie and do another Isley Bros. album up right.  I think Troy Taylor does fine with the production, but I think back to “Contagious” and “Busted” and I’m asking myself, where is R. Kelly when you need him to write a killer joint for Mr. Biggs? One more thing. At just under 50 minutes, Ron, you could’ve gave us 40 and we’d been good.

Favorites: “This Song Is For You”; “Dinner and a Movie”; “Lay You Down”; “He Won’t Ever Love You”

Verdict: ✰✰✰

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