David Lasley - Expectations of Love 


I’ve always felt “blue-eyed soul” is a pretty patronising term.  Fortunately I’ve not heard it too much since the mid-80’s and that was the period when Esquire magazine recognised David Lasley’s vocal talent by bracketing him with Philip Bailey, Maurice Gibb and Smokey Robinson as “1985’s top falsettos”.

 Lasley’s career started much earlier than this and he was singing sessions with his sister Julie as early as 1966.  Just over ten years later, he got his first chance to sing with James Taylor.  That was the start of a working relationship which has lasted many years. 

This is Lasley’s fifth solo album and like “Demos”, originally recorded nearly twenty years earlier, it’s a selection of work (much of it co-written by him) which sets out to showcase his range.  His writing talents can be heard on “You Bring Me Joy” by Anita Baker and on tracks by Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin and Boz Scaggs, to name just a few… 

The alternately lilting and passionate What’s It Gonna Take is the perfect showcase for Lasley’s soaring falsetto.  This is a great taster for the album and the comparison with Earth, Wind and Fire (musically and vocally) is unavoidable. 

The title cut is in the same vein and I loved the classy background vocals too.  Arnold McCuller (another talented backing singer who has toured with James Taylor) can be heard on this big, big song.  Strings are arranged by Eduardo del Barrio – one of the leading arrangers in contemporary jazz. 

So pretty is Good Magic, a really sexy ballad.  It has a smooth backbeat and lush keyboard chords.  This guy’s a soul singer – no doubt about it.  On an album by a big-name singer, this tune would be hailed as a classic. 

Meant For You is a very 70’s-sounding track and David Benoit sprinkles some lovely keyboard work on this little soul delight! 

If the record company is looking for a single, Revelations has to be it.  It’s moody with a strutting backbeat.  Could have been a Smokey Robinson song – the backing vocals smoulder, more than the lead even!  My favourite song.  Spine-tingling and blissful. 

There’s a dramatic whispered vocal at the start of Will To Survive.  It’s a strong lyric too.  Close your eyes and Philip Bailey’s voice is coming out of the speakers – ah, but no!  Performed live, this song would make the hairs on your neck stand up, gospel-style. 

The smooth jazz crowd should warm to Dancin’ On The Smooth Edge, where David explores more of his four-octave vocal range.  The instrumental backing is unobtrusive and the vocal shines out.  The soul is dripping off the CD!  Yummy! 

Joey (I Believe In Our Love) is a very wistful ballad and slow paced.  David Benoit does a great job on keyboards and the harp-like sound he creates is haunting – the entire song is, in fact. 

An intense atmosphere is conjured up on Night Of Our Lives.  Could have been more intense though – felt like everyone had a little more in reserve.  A great song to do live – I’d love to hear it!  I wanted to hear a bad boy on five-string bass really holding it down. 

Finger popping and, is that a Hammond B3, open the slow-burning Change All Of That.  You won’t hear better background vocals than these – the liner notes give tribute to the unsung heroes of popular music, and with good reason. 

Big flavours of Earth, Wind and Fire are there from the opening bars of Love’s Forever.  This song tugs at the heartstrings.  The production is sparse and the beauty of Lasley’s voice and the delicacy of Benoit’s piano are like good bread and good wine.  Put them together and you have a feast! 

Michael Kamen co-wrote, produced and played on When Will I Know Love.  He’s well known for his film music and it would only take a strong song by him with David on vocals to feature on a hit movie soundtrack to make this voice much better known... 

The Right Way is a laid-back and bluesy track and finishes the album on a classy note.  This 13-song set opens and closes strongly – it’s good to the last drop. 

The liner notes describe these performances as demos and the listener is asked to allow for any “bugs”.  I listened hard – as I always do – and they sound good to me.  As a background singer, David Lasley is a terrific lead singer.  “Expectations” should make him lots of new fans and he could have a very busy year ahead! 


Thursday Market Music 01001 – Various producers

Reviewed by Chris Mann