By Paul de Barros | Published June 2018
After kicking off his recording career with a pair of impressive albums, 38-year-old drummer/composer Reggie Quinerly has penned a brace of love songs for Words To Love, sung on alternate tracks by Milton Suggs and Melanie Charles.
Quinerly’s first full-on foray into songwriting, Words To Love features unusual melodies with subtle surprises. The prayer-like “Times We’ve Yet To See” slyly moves from 4 to 3 on the bridge; the joyously bluesy, triplet-driven declaration “You Bring Out My Best” swings mightily at a slow-drag tempo; and “Hope Is My Home” bristles with jazz brio. Suggs delivers all three with pristine clarity and earthy conviction; Charles’ atmospheric delivery, though warm, is harder to track.
But the striking weakness of this album lies in its lyrics, which are rife with clichés (“Oh, how time does fly,” “kindred ties that bind”), late-Victorian syntax (“dare not,” “for you my heart still beats”), mixed metaphors (“When trees lay bare ... faith remains my anchor”) and prolix phrases that stick in a singer’s mouth (“these words to love represent the truth we’d hoped for”), never mind the hackneyed metaphor of a Ferris wheel for life’s ups and downs. If Quinerly wants to swim in the deep end, he needs a songwriting partner—or a coach.
It’s a shame, because the love-and-inspiration vibe of this album is attractive, and Quinerly’s band proceeds with ease, in no small thanks to his own fluid and supportive stick work. With a little work on the “words” element of the album’s title, Quinerly could do better.
Words To Love: Until I Met You; Times We’ve Yet To See; Love’s Ferris Wheel; Still Frames; Words To Love; Hope Is My Home; Scene; You Bring Out My Best. (36:49)
Personnel: Reggie Quinerly, drums; Orrin Evans, piano; Ben Wolfe, bass; Jaleel Shaw, alto saxophone; Milton Suggs (2, 4, 6, 8), Melanie Charles (1, 3, 5, 7), vocals.