The Context –Vivian Green may not be a household name; however, the singer/songwriter born and bred in North Philadelphia has been a force in contemporary R&B since her gold-certified debut A Love Story (2002). Tracks like “Emotional Rollercoaster,” “Be Good to You,” and “Fanatic” showcased both her soulful vocal and polished songwriting skills. Prior to her solo career, Green cut her teeth in the industry by co-writing the track “Dear God” for Philly R&B trio Boyz II Men in 1997 and backing vocalist Jill Scott a year later at the age of 19.
The impressionable Green followed her illustrious debut with 2005’s Vivian, which debuted at number five on the R&B/hip-hop charts. Reaching number 10, the 2015 LP Vivid was Green’s highest charting record since her sophomore effort. Although accolades remain elusive, Green’s career has been prolific in terms of solo artistic ventures (seven LPs) and collaborations with the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Darius Rucker, and Kindred the Family Soul.
The Content – “Love Song” opens Green’s seventh full-length studio album, Love Absolute, in an explosion of early 2000s R&B sound equipped with smooth production and vocals to match. Green slows down the vibe and displays her vocal versatility with plenty of runs on the more sentimental “You Send Me.” The strong bassline underscores a lounge-like production that juxtaposes another powerful vocal showing on “This Love.” East Coast rap legend Ghostface Killah joins Green with highly reserved bars compared to verses from his Wu-Tang Clan days on the song “Light Up”—an upbeat selection that holds potential for a solid dance hall remix.
“Where You Are” and fun little runs at its close see Green return to more foundational R&B. The melancholic sound on “Harlem Blues” stands as a highlight track as a jazz-inspired background from talented saxophonist Mike Phillips compliments Green’s crooning exceptionally. Green returns the emotion with the feisty and self-reflective “That Kind of Pain.” “Sweet Home” tapers off and tends to drag as it appears prototypical in composition and songwriting. Green’s pan-black anthem acknowledging a forced diaspora “We Are Everywhere” starts encouragingly but reaches a precipice once a hip-hop beat shift occurs at the mid-point. “The Walk Up” is an upbeat and jazzy number that concludes the record.
The Skinny – Green’s seventh LP touches upon her early 2000s R&B roots yet Love Absolute remains fresh and inviting. The record’s dynamism is prevalent with jazz, hip-hop, and dance inflections infusing into Green’s soulful vocal delivery. Green could have tapped into more of these sounds as the strictly R&B tracks like “Love Song,” “Where You Are,” and “Sweet Home” are rather rote. Nonetheless, Green’s Love Absolute is worth the listen and is another reminder of her R&B proclivity.
The Rating – 5.9/10
1. Love Song
2. You Send Me
3. He Didn’t Hurt Me (Interlude)
4. This Love
5. Light Up (feat. Ghostface Killah)
6. Where You Are
7. Harlem Blues (feat. Mike Phillips)
8. Flames (Interlude)
9. That Kind of Pain
10. Sweet Home
11. Diaspora & Dishes (Jordan’s Question) [feat. Jordan Green]
12. We Are Everywhere
13. The Walk Up