Ricky Fanté

Rewind (Virgin/EMI)

When people talk about "old school" sounds, they're likely referring to styles indigenous to the mid-1970s or early '80s (and maybe even the '90s; writer Harlan Ellison lamented that today's youth have no sense of history: "They're nostalgic for what they had for breakfast."). But singer Ricky Fanté is so old school, it's almost scary.

Fanté learned his lessons from icons Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Solomon Burke. He's got a sweet rasp to his voice and a pleading, wise-beyond-his-years anguished tone born of the faith and frenzy of Southern gospel; an echoing female chorus, a smoldering guitar/keys/horns band, and sighing strings add accompaniment. To listen to Rewind, one might think the years between 1972 and the present never happened, and that is Fanté's strength and weakness. On one hand, those valuing this genre will be happy the lineage is being carried on with conviction and precision, and this album does have a certain lost-in-time charm. On the other, Fanté doesn't really add much to the tradition -- at times, this could be a "lost" Blues Brothers album, albeit one with a very fine singer. It's clear that Fanté has a genuine flair for this music, but he's got a ways to go to get from copycat to contender. -- Mark Keresman

 
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