Uncle Charlie Wilson delivers another consistent, enjoyable adult contemporary R&B album on his eighth album, ‘In It to Win It.’
Charlie Wilson is the model of consistency in R&B music. The former lead vocalist for the Gap Band arguably possesses one of the best voices ever. At 64 years of age, he proves he is still a musical force. The proof? Another fine album, In It to Win It.
Wilson opens In It to Win It thankfully on “I’m Blessed.” The record opens with him testifying about God’s goodness before delivering a stunning, spiritually-driven performance. This is well-rounded, inspiration adult contemporary R&B at its best. Wilson doesn’t tweak the formula, but he doesn’t need to. Is the appearance by T.I. necessary? No, but it gives Uncle Charlie a youthful compadre and proves that the vet can hang with anybody.
“Chills” is another feel-good joint, once more in a major key. Instead of praising God this round, Wilson shifts the script to love. He’s in full-on chivalrous mode.
“Had me feeling like a kid again / Always talking about you to my friends / That’s how I know it’s real / You give me chills / Baby up and down my spine / Everyday you’re looking more and more fine / I put that on a mill, you give me chills.”
“Smile for Me”
“Smile for Me” gives Uncle Charlie one of his most soulful, exceptional moments from In It to Win It. Paired with neo-soul standout Robin Thicke, “Smile for Me” is simple in concept, but reaps massive benefits of being so simplistic. Essentially, Wilson and Thicke tout the power of a smile and showing resolve through the hardest of times. The vocal chemistry between the two is magnificent – two truly gifted musicians.
“Made for Love”
“Made for Love” pairs two of R&B’s greatest voices. Five-time Grammy winner Lalah Hathaway joins Wilson on this duet that could’ve taken place back in the 80s. Anachronistic? Maybe a smidge, but ultimately, this duet transcends time period. This is well-rounded R&B at its best.
All in all, Uncle Charlie has given the world another winning album on In It to Win It. He doesn’t change the formula or rewrite the script, nor did he need to. Honestly, the man could “sing the songbook” and have a solid project on his hands. If anything, Wilson deserves more credit for his masterful vocal performances and sound LPs. In It to Win It is another worthwhile addition to his underrated discography.
Gems: “I’m Blessed,” “Chills,” “Smile for Me” & “Made for Love”