Published Jan 22, 2016It's been 15 years since Regina Belle released an R&B album proper (2001's This Is Regina, to be precise), and three decades since her debut appearance on the Manhattans' sumptuous 1986 blue light classic "Where Did We Go Wrong." But despite a consistent oeuvre, including such classic singles as 1987's "Show Me The Way," 1989's "Baby Come To Me" and "Make It Like It Was," as well as stellar albums like All By Myself, Belle is still known primarily for her blockbuster 1992 duet with Peabo Bryson, "A Whole New World." With the Heavyweights (Jamie Jones and Jack Kugell) laying down crisp, contemporary production and Belle co-writing nearly half of its tracks, The Day Life Began is a more than solid re-introduction to this oft-unsung diva.
The title track, "Imperfect Love" and "You Saw The Good In Me" are sublime slow jams that demonstrate time hasn't diminished Belle's brisk, sophisticated vocals, and despite being clearly aimed at fans of her late 1980s/early 1990s commercial peak, don't sound calculated or dated. The funk/rock/gospel bounce of "He's Alright," which surges to a glorious Sunday morning in the choir climax, "Open Our Eyes," which rocks an especially acute critique of technology over an invigorating, neo-boogie groove and the lovely, wine light jazz reverie " A Night Of Love" are all potent examples of Belle's versatility.
Aside from a superfluous cover of the late, great Phyllis Hyman's 1979 classic "You Know How To Love Me" — which, while heartfelt, comes off like a facsimile — The Day Life Began is a mature and captivating album. (Shanachie)