Following in the footsteps of many renowned instrumentalists who’ve picked up the mic to express the vocalist in them, celebrated bassist Kevin Jenkins has dropped his debut project as a singer. ‘Step Inside’ is Jenkin’s first solo project after 38 years in the music industry, backing up a raft of stars including Cyndi Lauper and Enrique Iglesias as they entertained audiences around the world. His magical bass licks can be heard on the albums and singles of renowned singers from a host of genres. Also in Jenkins’ impressive CV are shows in which he has opened for industry icons including the late great Michael Jackson, The Police, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton and BB King.
Now Kevin has begun a new chapter in his musical journey, fronting his own project which is not only a reflection of his world view but a revelation of his prowess on the mic. The 12-track album is rooted in soul but branches out into a host of genres, betraying the influence the different acts Jenkins has worked with over the years have had on him. You won’t fail to catch snatches of rock, reggae, R&B and jazz as you move down the tracklist. For a debutant you have to say Kevin handles himself pretty well, threading his throaty tenor through the carefully polished arrangements commendably. New York artist/producer/guitarist Tomas Doncker does a fantastic job of bringing out the best in Jenkins.
You get a taste of what’s to come on the opening track ‘What Comes Around’, a smooth, jazzy track with instruments beautifully balanced to create a live feel. If the BGVs were not Kevin’s, you could easily close your eyes and imagine him onstage with an eight-piece band. The next track, ‘Can’t Get Over You’ is more mellow and R&B-flavored, the perfect jam for when you’re trapped indoors on a rainy day, though it’s still spiced up with exquisitely timed trumpet blasts. The rocker in Kevin breaks out on ‘Take This Ride’, accompanied by a furious guitar and strong vocals courtesy of Shemekia Copeland.
Kevin winds back the clock and takes us to the days of Eddie Kendricks and Earth Wind & Fire on the ninth track ‘Change of Heart’. Preaching a message of never giving up and believing in your dreams, he uses the soaring strings, persistent tambourine and prominent percussion as the backdrop to a memorable soul number. This, for my money, is one of the brighter gems in Step Inside. But with the immense musical geography this album covers, every listener is bound to have their own favorite.
You get the impression that Kevin is still finding his feet vocally, especially from the labored falsetto. But anyone who has listened to Incognito founder Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick’s debut solo album will know not to expect perfection. But after a few listens such concerns will pale and you’ll realize that what you have in your hands is nothing short of a classic.
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Miami Based International Known