Michelle ReneeRenée has a musical pedigree and offers a very decent début, but it is unlikely to create a storm.

Label: Yelloweed Records
Time:  11 tracks / 44 mins.

Michelle Renée began performing as a five year old in her family band, based in upstate New York, and continued in Germany and North Carolina before joining the SOS Band as backing singer and keys player for their live shows.

This début is her chance to reveal her own songs (mostly co-written with producer Rodney Shelton) mixed in with a few covers.

It is a very solid effort. Opener “Heaven” has a similar feel to Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight at the Oasis” and she breaks her well-mixed soulful material for a reggae-lite cover of “Time for Kama.” Closer "Love of my Life" has a strings theme playing against the main melody in a way that would feel at home in one of the smoother Bond movie themes. And the playing is impeccable.

Through it all, Renée shows that she has been in the business of some while, her breathy, soulful phrasing reminiscent of a calmer Tina Turner (especially on her cover of “Ordinary People").

But for all the solidity, little makes you sit up in wonder. After the lovely, crisp, acoustic “If I Say I Love You” comes the anonymous “Ooh La Love”, where the syrupy title alone is a warning about what to expect.

The bigger clue is in the somewhat cheesy cover art: it feels like a few hundred other easy soul albums.

Derek Walker

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