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Chris Walker: I Know It's Love

Woodrow Wilkins By

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With music typically defined by category, artists are sometimes restricted to a certain genre. However, Chris Walker defies that practice. I Know It's Love, the inaugural release on Canvas Records, is a mixture of styles and presentations. Throughout the album, Walker glides smoothly from country to R&B to pop—often presenting a mix of the three.

Employing a variable lineup of session musicians and background vocalists, Walker was deeply involved in the production, which may explain the music's freshness. He plays several instruments, including bass, and is responsible for programming on some tracks. All twelve songs were written by Walker and Ray J. Davis, the founder of Canvas, with each composing one track on his own. On top of all that, Walker sings lead on all songs and contributes background vocals on several.

On I Know It's Love, Walker sings about that emotion from various perspectives—realized, unrequited, and stages in between. The laid-back opening track, "Drifting Along, has enough bass-influenced funk to be R&B; but the song itself can also easily score in pop, and Walker's singing style says country. The lyrics are sure to connect with every person who has met that special someone once, but never had a chance to get to know them. Walker sings, "What a day for falling in love, with a lady who I never saw. One song that is straight country is "Perfect Woman. Walker pours a lot of himself into it, singing not as one just trying to make a record but as a man making a statement about his yearning for a lifetime mate.

Walker entered the world of music at age five, playing drums in his family's gospel group, The Walker Brothers. After studying at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York, he worked with such noted performers as Al Jarreau, Ornette Coleman, Kirk Whalum, Regina Belle, and Yolanda Adams. His previous albums are First Time and Sincerely Yours.

One of the beauties of I Know It's Love is the way it defies conventional wisdom. Music is meant to be shared with everyone, and those who create it should never be restricted because of where they were born or the color of their skin. Yet it's often suggested that African Americans are only interested in hip-hop, R&B, and gospel, with occasional allowances for blues, jazz, and oldies. Of course, that's nonsense. But most black recording stars conform to cultural expectations.

Walker, having delivered a fine album, breaks with conventional thinking. His music is clean and his emotions are raw. Whether you want to call him a country artist or just a good singer/musician who can do whatever moves him, Walker should not be dismissed for defying the genre police.


Track Listing: Drifting Along; Even Now; It

Personnel: Chris Walker: lead and background vocals, bass, other instruments, programming; Dave Cleveland: guitar; Jason Webb: keyboards, piano, organ; Dan Needham: drums; Larry Baird: string arranger, conductor; Wanda Vick: fiddle (3,4); Scotty Anderson: pedal steel guitar; Eric Darken: percussion; Cleo

Title: I Know It's Love | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Canvas Records


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