The Way You Make Me Feel by Sharon Rae North – reviewed by Chris Mann
native Sharon Rae North sings many shades of jazz and writes her own
compositions. She has opened for major artists, such as Patti LaBelle
and has headlined at numerous events, including the 2006 Summer
Concert Series in Durham, North Carolina.
Her soul/funk credentials look good too: she has worked with Bootsy’s
keys man Joel "Razor Sharp" Johnson, Michael "Kidd Funkadelic" and
James Brown’s veteran keys man Jerry "Louie" Poindexter.
Sharon’s first CD, a 4-song demo, has received airplay in the United
States and abroad. After performing "Get Here" at New York’s famed
Apollo Theater, Sharon was asked by C.P. Lacey, also known as "The
Sandman", to sit in with his nine-piece band. She performed a live
duet with recording artist Cherelle and sang back-up at an event for
singer/actress Rain Pryor (Richard’s daughter).
Sharon performs throughout Atlanta and nationally and will soon
perform internationally, having been invited to headline in Shanghai.
She also has had requests to perform in at Croatia’s Jazz in Lapidarij
Festival and in Taiwan and Portugal.
The opener and title track to this second CD has a
gentle samba sway and although the synth strings and piano are
tasteful and very enjoyable, it’s Sharon’s voice which is the
undisputed star here. It has a huskiness with a hint of vulnerability
which, for me, is a great combination. On The Things You Do to Me,
there is a less intimate sound with brass samples and a synthesized
drum track. You’ll be drawn in though, because the sneaky sax licks
and very strong hook get you reaching for the repeat button.
The Harry Nilsson-penned One is a plaintive
ballad and Vic Smiley’s acoustic guitar here provides the lovely
accompaniment to Sharon’s warm tones. Subtle jazz guitar opens the
very sexy Something About. The drums and percussion on here
sound very natural and this song is so well performed and recorded
it’s an absolute joy to listen to. Vic Smiley collaborated with
Sharon on the original songs on this set and his deft touch enhances
Smooth Jazz radio should be picking up on It’s No
Wonder. It has a lovely sway and, despite synthesized drums, it
moves very nicely. Sharon’s phrasing is perfect and you won’t miss a
word of this pretty lyric. The brooding intro to We’re Still
Friends promises something deep and soulful à la Millie Jackson.
Sharon doesn’t get down-and-dirty (either lyrically or vocally) like
that but it’s still a lovely song full of meaning. On her next CD,
I’d love to hear Sharon going for it more without losing the engaging
warmth in her voice, and at the end of this song I can hear faint
suggestions of how good that could sound… The closer, Gotta Get
Away, is more upbeat and brassy than the previous songs. It’s
very catchy with its strong hook, brass samples and snappy backing
(where you can buy the CD) recommends Sharon’s CD for those who like
Etta James, Oleta Adams and Randy Crawford. The last two are fair
comparisons – Sharon’s voice has the same relaxed, sultry quality that
they both have – and it would only take a big push from a Smooth Jazz/NAC
station to get Sharon’s voice better known and her name up there.
Producers – Sharon Rae North, Vic Smiley