Boney James - Detour
Not many things in life you can always count on, except of course the examples mentioned in perpetuity through much of the history of humankind, but sax veteran, Boney James, dropping another album ripe with sweet, soulful and sensual melodies is practically a given and a guarantee in this musical day and age.
The four time Grammy nominee follows up the massive commercial success of 2020's Solid with his latest project, Detour, released in late September on the Concord Music label. Largely recorded at James' home studio in L.A., the saxophonist co-produced his 18th career album with highly in-demand Jairus 'J-Mo' Mozee, who co-wrote the chart impacting debut single, "Bring It Back". This funked up track comes with the added bonus of featured trumpeter, Dontae Winslow, whose accompaniment is like the added cream to an already robust and flavourful cup of coffee. The title song on the album serves as another fine example of James’ ability to record music with a laid back vibe, without losing the sophistication and soulfulness that makes his music addictive.
Detour is not without a noticeable guitar presence thanks to the work of Big Mike Hart and the always popular Paul Jackson Jr. “Sway” is a great example of that, with its opening solo guitar chords that lead into another cool James’ masterpiece displaying infectious melody and rhythm.
One specific track of noteworthiness is "Coastin'", where James solicits the scintillating vocal talents of Grammy award winning soul great, Lalah Hathaway.
Though it’s a laid back, 'quiet storm' style release, Hathaway's breathy vocal provides a synergetic performance complementing James' sensual sax work, making it no surprise that the song was impacting mainstream RnB charts.
The chosen title of the album did have me questioning its meaning upon the release and before I was able to audibly consume his latest work. Did Detour denote a change in musical direction for the veteran award winning saxophonist, or did it allude to James' talent and ability to infuse his music with 'old school' vibes that are both reminiscent of and a tribute to the throwback soul era of 70's?
It turns out it meant neither! As James explains, "We've all been on a detour these last few years”, referring of course to the society-halting era of the pandemic. He adds, 'This album reflects how my music and I have been affected by the times we're in". Happy to say that the saxophonist, like just about every other musician, is back to bringing his craft to live audiences everywhere and in terms of musical style, staying right in his lane.Reviewed by Stu Berketo