Issued on his own Kitchen label, Love's Drippin'
marks Leon Ware
's return to the U.S. recording market for the first time in 20 years. His previous three records were issued on the U.K. Expansion label. His last outing in 2000 was a jazz album with Don Gruisin
and Oscar Castro-Neyes. Love's Drippin'
marks the first soul album Ware
had issued since 1995. It is also his finest recording since 1981's Rockin' You Eternally
wrote or co-wrote everything here, played boatloads of instruments and arranged and produced the entire recording. Based on the title and the cheesy cover, one might get the misperception that this is a sterile rehash of earlier Ware
glory years. While it is a mellow, funky soul record that grooves from start to finish, and Ware
's signing has never sounded better, this set is a step forward in terms of production, composition, and vocal arrangement for Ware
on the technical level. On the musical and emotional level, Love's Drippin'
is a deeply satisfying, overwhelmingly romantic, lush album of fine songs that equates with his best work easily. The one interesting thing is that just like on Mickey Newbury
's recordings of the late '60s and early '70s, Ware
's album has the sound of dripping water running between every track, giving it a very unified, though not conceptual feel -- unless love is a concept rather than a reality. "Underneath Your Sweetness" -- with its gorgeous choruses and shimmering falsetto promising to deliver all the protagonist's lover wants and to do so sensitively -- is beyond macho prowess and is a paean to devotion. The funky groover "Saveur," written with M. Ragin, and featuring a delicate house rhythm track, is a love song that celebrates the eternity and mystery of women. Its soundscapes that slip in and out of the mix are engaging and do not distract from the groove. But the most outrageously beautiful and sensual track here is "I'm Ooin' You Tonight," with its scratchy backdrops, its juxtaposed slow funky rhythm, and Ware
's whispers in both tenor and baritone before soaring into his trademark falsetto. Ware
's reliance on a chorus and the promise of breathless lovemaking is turned in on the singer rather than on the beloved. Ware
is still the master of sexy, steamy soul, and Love's Drippin'
is one of those bedroom records that will, if anyone ever hears it, go down as a classy adult masterpiece.