Life Changing, Deluxe Edition
by Monica P. Watkins
Great expectation arises in me with just one glance at a CD title. If that's not the case for you, I'm sure you would agree that just about anyone would expect something phenomenal out of a project that boasts the confident title Life Changing.
Smokie Norful goes right to work to deliver on this one as he declares victory in Christ with the upbeat opening selection, Celebrate. Forget about trying to remain seated. I was up as soon as the celebratory energy filled the room. Clapping, foot tapping, dancing, and singing all seem to be unwritten requirements of this track, and I was delighted to participate. Um Good, the debut single, is a huge hit with radio stations and fans across the country, and you don't have to listen long to deduce why. Reminiscent of his debut hit, I Need You Now, Um Good is sure to get the church stirring. I'm a huge fan of Norful's writing, and probably the most notable display of his amazing writing gift is on the song Where Would I Be? With the combination of Norful's picturesque prose and the magic of production wizard Tommy Sims, this song alone will send any music collector scouring store shelves in search of the Life Changing project.
Now, I will preface my next few statements by saying that I am a pretty hard re-make critic. My philosophy falls somewhere along the lines of "if it's not broke, don't fix it!" Norful takes his chances, however, and performs a touching rendition of the Whitney Houston classic Run To You (The Bodyguard soundtrack, 1992). Not quite a life-changing rendition, but I can easily envision a show stopping comeback performance for Ms. Houston involving the two in a duet of Norful's more spiritual rendition of this classic ballad.
Toss in a little Praise, a sprinkle of Worship, a dash of R&B flavor, and a taste of the Carribean, and as his junior offering, Life Changing appears to be evidence that Norful has comfortably settled into his own musical identity, an accomplishment that is absolutely imperative for any artist hoping for even the slightest bit of staying power in this industry. Be on the lookout for a deluxe edition of Life Changing to hit store shelves near you in February.
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