Having the extreme pleasure and enjoyment of reviewing a Chris Standring album has beome almost as second nature to me as pouring a cup of soothing hot coffee first thing in the morning. Whether it was past great offerings, Don’t Talk, Dance!, Sunlight, or Ten, I’ve grown accustomed to expecting something delightfully smooth and sophisticatedly soulful. And listening to his latest offering, the enjoyment continues again where he left off last.
One of the greatest smooth jazz exports out of the UK, the veteran of versatility Standring is poised to have one of 2020’s most successful albums with this, his 13th solo and studio release. Real Life contains 11 tracks of superlative Standring writing and musicianship, with a couple of additional surprises tossed into the mix. Real Life begins like a production, with the ear catching acapella open on Is There A Doctor In The House?, a funky and quick paced soul groove that reached the heights of #1 on our Wave Top 10. A cool hand clapper and stylish experience awaits on Whatever She Wants. Similar in style, What Goes Around offers another swaggery Standring offering where he again strikes the right chords on a rhythmic background.
Gentle, flowing and soothing vibes prevail on In Other Words, while equally tranquil is Another Train, both of which offer an intoxicating escape from an otherwise chaotic world.
Real Life is not void of vocal enjoyment, and accompanying Standring’s talkbox on Living In Poetry is the soulfully engaging Vanessa Haynes. Co-written by Grammy nominated composer Lauren Christy, who also provides some vocal backing, this groove had me reflecting on the Rufus/Chaka Khan classic Tell Me Something Good at the intro before it evolves into it’s own identity, but still with a definite 70’s throwback sound. Borrowing from the stellar songbook of one jazz legend Herbie Hancock, Standring offers his version of the 1969 release, Tell Me A Bedtime Story. And speaking of a story, if Real Life was described as the latest musical literary work of Standring’s prolific career, he closes off the final chapter of the album with his solo Spanish guitar rendition of Prelude From Bach Cello Suite 1, by the classical master Johann Sebastian Bach, that is breathtakingly beautiful and calming.
With 13 Billboard smooth jazz top 10 hits, and 7 Billboard number 1’s to his credit, Real Life solidifies Standring’s reputation as one of the most admired composers and creatively talented six-string icons in the smooth jazz world..and that’s for real!
Reviewed by Stu Berketo
Wave.fm on-air host