I was most familiar with Wayne Brady as one of the improvisational comedy actors from Whose Line is it Anyway and as a stage performer in the musical Chicago (which I did not see but knew he was in). From the work he'd done on Whose Line, especially bits that required singing, it was clear that he had talent. In 2008 he released a full length CD, A Long Time Coming. Here's my track by track opinion.
- Ordinary – This is a nice standard issue smooth R&B tune with smooth vocals
- F.W.B. – This is a catch phrase song, Friends With Benefits and was the first tune that I heard from the CD as it was in heavy rotation on the Michael Baisden radio show. The song has a smooth vocal, with adult content and is the best track on the CD.
- Can't Buy Me Love – This oft covered Beatles tune is done proper justice by Brady. The musical arrangement has a gospel tinge to it and Brady provides a sweet and understated vocal as it should be.
- Back in the Day – This is an uptempo song about reminiscence, a tribute to the 80's with plenty of pop-culture references from that era. The music is fine, but the lyrics are corny.
- Sweetest Berry – This is your typical "girl you're so sweet" ballad that leads off with acoustic guitar backing Brady's vocal followed by the rest of the rhythm section. The vocals on this one are nice.
- A Change is Gonna Come – I always get leary when this Sam Cooke song is covered, but there was no reason to be on Brady's version. He sounds great on this cut, he channels Cooke a bit, but the vocal is really outstanding. The muiscal arrangement is true to the era of the original. I played this song for some of my co-workers who were in disbelief that this was Wayne Brady.
- I Ain't Movin – This is 60's psychadelica in feel and sound and Brady is singing about remaining steadfast with his girl, regardless of the circumstance. There is a break about 2/3 of the way through in which Brady speaks directly to said girl, which I could have done without, but overall this song has great energy.
- Make Heaven Wait – This is very adult contemporary in sound and is a beautiful but sad song about the loss of the love his life.
- All Naturally – This song has so much promise because of it's lyrical content, about how he appreciates the natural beauty of his girl, without all the makeup and frills. Where the cut falls short is on the vocal and musical arrangement. This song's beat and lyrical flow is of the cookie cutter R&B male type. This song fails because he's a better vocalist than what this song gives him credit for.
- All I Do – many people cover Stevie's songs, some to great effect and some to great disappointment. Brady's cover vocally is fine but the musical arrangement is a miss. The music maintains the Stevie keyboards but it tries to have a swingy jazzy vibe as well that just doesn't work.
- Beautiful Ugly – This is a song about a beautiful girl that's done something very ugly to him. This is supposed to be a drama song, however it falls a bit short.
- You and Me – This is song describes the breakup of his family and the combination of the vocal and music works really well to convey the bittersweetness of the breakup.
A Long Time Coming had an average of a 5 star customer rating on Amazon.com which was surprising to me. This CD was rated higher than Raphael Saadiq, Anthony Hamilton and Maxwell and I couldn't disagree more. This CD has some standout cuts, including F.W.B., Can't Buy Me Love, A Change is Gonna Come and a few others, but it falls short. Wayne Brady has got the vocal chops to sing anything, he's talented, however the musical arrangement on at least half of the tunes just doesn't match what I believe he's trying to convey on each song. I don't mind a mix of styles/genres on a CD. This mix just doesn't work, which says to me, that there's a production problem. I'd give the CD three mics on the strength of Brady's vocals. I'm hoping that when he goes back to the lab, it's with a different production team that has a better understanding of him as a vocalist.