CD REVIEW: Johnny Gill’s Still Winning

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(Wangui Gitei) – After over thirty years in the business and five solo albums under his belt, it would be safe to say Johnny Gill is a veteran. He has achieved amazing success as part of not one but three super r n’ b groups (New Edition, LSG and most recently Heads of State) and has come into his own as a solo artist to reckon with. 1983 was when he released his first album, Johnny Gill, and the crooner is back with Still Waiting, the first album he has released in 15 years. The 10-track disc is quintessential Johnny-smooth, soft and reminiscent of the popular 90’s bump-and-grind sound, where singers talked extensively about making love and not the crude four letter words the act has now been designated.

The seductive lead single, In the Mood, echoes the biggest hit of his career, My,My,My in its lyrics. My Love is a cover of Paul McCartney’s 1973 classic hit with his band Wings, a song that he wrote about his feelings for his wife Linda. Glad to say our boy nails it!

Another interesting cover Mr. Gill does on the album is It Would Be You, a song that was on a Trey Songz mixtape called Anticipation. That is probably the most surprising twist on the album, something fans would never have seen coming, which might be the point.

Johnny also teams up with former LSG band mate, Keith Sweat and Eddie Levert in the song Long, Long, Time (Eddie is the father of the original L in LSG, Gerald Levert, who passed away in 2006 and lead singer of the legendary group The O’Jays). This particular song reeks 90s nostalgia, and the voices that we’ve heard for decades blend seamlessly in a song that will still resonate with fans for years to come. The title track, Still Winning, veers from the tempo of the rest of the album and is more upbeat, and the lyrics are about winning (not the Charlie Sheen kind) and rising above circumstances and claiming success despite the odds.

Johnny’s vocal winner on the album though is, hands down, 2nd Place. The song, offset by a beautiful piano background, is about him explaining to his current love how she is simply not the one. One line, in spectacular falsetto, actually sings, ‘I wish I didn’t have to think of someone else when I’m kissing you.’ The song is brutally honest, and a few ladies will probably bristle listening to it, but Johnny’s voice on this particular track and the amazing range he displays is unforgettable.

The album’s production team includes former Fugees member Wyclef Jean and veteran r n’ b producer Bryan Michael Cox, who produced Let’s Stay Together and Long, Long, Time. The song 4 A Long Time was written by the Grammy award winning rapper and producer Stat Major, who passed away in 2008. A Johnny Gill album also wouldn’t be complete without hit makers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who produce both My Love and Black Box. Black Box is actually one of the more creative songs on the album, where Johnny looks for the black box to find out what went wrong after a relationship crashes.

This album is a testament to Johnny’s enduring longevity in the industry: strong vocals, undeniable talent and a passion for making music. Johnny Gill is still very much around, and he is certainly still winning.

 

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