Not everybody is cut out to be center stage. Some folks are better off in the background supporting the superstar in the spotlight. That is not the case for Brooklyn based R&B soul singer, Kevin Jenkins, who sadly has spent a three decade long career as the side man to such artists as Cyndi Lauper, Maxwell, Roberta Flack and Enrique Iglesias. Now I’m sure Jenkins has enjoyed traveling and performing around the world with those artists, but listening to an advance of his first solo effort as the main attraction, Step Inside, I can’t help wondering what great music we missed out on in all those years. The album is full of jazz and classic R&B rhythms that recall the heyday of a Bill Withers or Joe Cocker. Jenkins’ music – and this is truly meant as a compliment – is the smooth kind of listening you can turn on on a Saturday morning while cleaning the house and joyously bop around to.
For all the baggage that Micheal Jackson carried, when it came to music and musicianship, he had an ear, a talent, and, certainly an appreciation for live instrumentation and folks who could truly play. That’s why it’s no surprise Jenkins once received a co-sign from the king of pop himself when Jackson chose him to play bass for him. And while Tina Turner, The Police, and BB King can all vouch for him too, stepping out an finally writing and producing his own songs has to feel like the final piece to a good career.
Well how does Jenkins do on his first foray as singer/songwriter? Pretty darn well, I’d say. On the funk flavored upbeat “Change Of Heart,” he sings “It’s never too late, to make a new start” and this record represents just that for the long time bassist. While the lyrics are a little too clean and innuendo free for the younger set, these tunes would be right at home in any coffee shop in Park Slope where a smooth croon and the occasional harmonica is always appreciated. (Also highly recommend: “Learn To Love”, “Take This Ride feat. Shamekia Copeland”, “Wichita Lineman”)
Here’s the “Following” information:
Jenkins album, Step Inside, officially comes out September 9th via Tomas Doncker’s True Grooves Label, but you can get and early listen and download here and here. Tomas Doncker produced the record alongside Jenkins and James Dellatacoma.
“Friday Follow” appears every Friday. It features talented artists that operate in and around New York City. Those performers are chosen or considered by recommendation from the My Socialist crew of writers (The MSLC) – all with diverse musical tastes. Submissions are accepted and encouraged. For the purposes of this feature “unsigned” means those without music label rep, but artists do have to have management that can pitch for them with a proper media kit.