Friday, May 27, 2016

GROOVE U.-Tender Love (1994)


Just finished enjoying my second set of soul grooves for this final Friday of May with another set of new voices to grace my ears for the first time. The r&b quartet out of Houston, Texas deservedly called itself GROOVE U. because they've got the jams for you to groove to—plus many tender moments to share—on their one and only album, "Tender Love". And it's one that I recommend all 90's r&b lovers should snatch up and add into their respective libraries before this hard-to-come-by rarity fades away into music oblivion. For the time being, why not become oblivious to your surroundings and get lost inside their world when their collective voices meet and greet your ears on the opening cut, "(Seek And You'll Find) The Kinda Right Baby", where they promise to love like you wanna be loved. Then they waste no time at all cooling down with the first of many slow numbers, "Old Becomes New", which is one I highlight because the vocals—particularly that of the quartet's lead singer—are terrific! Can you find it in your heart to forgive? That's among the questions they have for you on the album's next soulicious slow moment, "Can I Make It Up To You?". Both the title to this album the title track itself share its name with a very memorable slow jam from the 80's that I'm sure all r&b lovers know oh so well. Sure would've been nice to hear another artist's spin on the FORCE M.D.'s classic, but the GROOVE U. crew has their own brand of "Tender Love" that they want to give to the ladies. Perhaps even more of a tender moment than that: "Looking For Love (In All The Wrong Places)" . The album's fourth slow jam became a favorite as the music continued to grow and grow on me; the smooth flow of it just sounds so nice, and the words of them saying that love is right here waiting and no need to look and search any further adds a special touch. Beyond the aforementioned upbeat opener and "Call And I'll Answer" (loving that acapella when the beat drops out at the very end of this one). the groovin' gets seriously tasty! Makes perfect sense that a quartet calling itself GROOVE U. would craft together a song with the word 'groove' in its title, doesn't it? An awesome jam thrown into the mix here! Then there's the marvelously masterminded mix of a jam that is "Oh-Oh Uhh Oh", which had me saying 'uh-oh' myself the very second the suspenseful melody (the piano accompaniment is especially chilling) and the tight, funky beats already was letting me know I was in for something good. Turns out this quite the feel-good weekend party jam, as the 'uh-h' in title somewhat deceives you into thinking otherwise; could even be seen as a continuation of that groove-with-you-all-night theme from the preceding jam. One thing's for sure, hearing the guys repeating the title lyrics over and over in the main chorus becomes extremely catchy before too long! Got plenty of kicks out of the "Hoochie", which brought back shades of that memorable new jack swing era for four-and-a-half minutes and includes a couple of cool moments midway through with the slowed-down slick jazz break, then the hip-hop breakout right afterwards. Already mentioned that the lead singer's vocals are brilliant, but he shines exceptionally well all throughout "Say U Love Me", with his backup GROOVE U. crew contrasting his booming voice perfectly with their warming soulful harmony. Does love sound any more tender than that?

1. (Seek And You'll Find) The Kinda Right Baby
2. Old Becomes New
3. Can I Make It Up To You?
4. Call And I'll Answer
5. Tender Love
6. Looking For Love (In All The Wrong Places)
7. Groove With You
8. Oh-Oh Uhh Oh
9. Say U Love Me
10. Hoochie
11. Don't Let It Slip Away

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