Smooth Jazz instrumentalist Brian Culbertson is prepping his upcoming album, Dreams, and he's got some pretty cool features, too. On the album, he spotlights R&B voices Noel Gourdin, Vivian Green, and Stokley Williams of Mint Condition, all of whom provide a few vocals throughout.
When you press play on this record, you're immediately required to stop what you're doing on Earth, and transport to Brian Culbertson's world. And - that's the way it should be. Having produced or performed on over 25 #1 records, you'd expect nothing less.
Melodic, smooth, catchy, and honest are all words that describe Dreams. It begins with "Later Tonight", the first cut that unapologetically grabs you and pulls you in. Combination of the bass and piano (and I'm sure lots of other instruments, too!) make this a replay track.
When Stokley Williams from Mint Condition begins to sing, you understand he's quite different, and you like it. That's how "No Limits" opens up, with a crooning Williams expressing the urgency to see his woman as soon as possible. He rides the beat effortlessly, not outshining it, but meshing and creating a beautiful song worthy of play during date nights by the fireplace. Of course, with a glass of Chardonnay.
While I'll forever feel John Legend should've been called to lay a few vocals on this, I'll live with the instrumental of "Your Smile". While listening, you'll imagine being whisked away to your lovers beach house, showered with cool breeze and lots of sand in between your toes. I assume this is why the album is called Dreams. It's where we'd all like to be, however, since we're not, let's keep this on repeat.
"Still Here", featuring Vivian Green, comes in at the perfect time on this record. Totally reminding you why you're still here, with your lover, fighting for what's right. The instrumental lays low, giving Vivian time to shine, and sing words that you think she herself even believes. Conviction, in the beat, and her voice, pulls you in and keeps you listening. You almost feel like she's about to provide relationship advice, and she is, if you listen.
"Still Here" f/ Vivian Green
It starts off slow, reflective almost. After that huge event just happened in your life, you have gone into reminiscent mode, playing back in your mind all things that once mattered, and still do. That's "In The City" for you.
Rhythm & Blues is one of the genres that will never die. Here's why: There's a need for soul. A need for music that resonates with your heart. "You're My Music" featuring Noel Gourdin does just that. Gourdin croons, and at best, can't help himself when he aggressively says, "Let's make music!" to his lover of choice. This is one for the replay.
The title track "Dreams", almost makes you feel like it's the last song on the record. Celebratory in nature, "Dreams" reminds you of the good job you've done, and it's okay to pat yourself on the back. Whether you've landed your dream job, finally approached the girl (in my case) of your dreams, or finished a semester-long research paper, this song offers smooth, clean, celebration music.
"Madelena" is a stand-out track, coming in with a purpose to make you take it serious. Gentle, yet, forceful, pulling you away from the drama of the streets, and into the dreamy world of Culbertson.
One of the most pressing tracks on the album, "Lights Off", is all instrumental. The beauty of this is that you can add your own words, your own thoughts and use your imagination to fill in the blank. Do that.
You've been taken on a ride, and now it's time for the trip home. "The Journey" is just that. Bringing things to a close, Culbertson is taking you out with a bang. Almost as if it's waiting on you to take action. Though it's the last song, with the album on repeat, it will effortlessly flow into the first track, and give you the perfect encore.
In the past, Brian has collaborated with artists including Musiq Soulchild, Ledisi, and even Brian McKnight. We're glad Brian wasn't on McKnight's latest work, though.
Dreams is a near-perfect effort from Brian Culbertson as he smoothly presents to you the best of the best, with little room for anything less. A leading smooth jazz instrumentalist, Culbertson takes no short cuts, and even brings a few of his friends for the ride, all of which makes for a solid effort.
Dreams will be in stores and online June 12. Pre-order here.