Two-time Grammy nominee and quiet stormer Ryan Shaw described this sophomore album to Essence as “A gumbo infused with soul, rock and two tablespoons of gospel.” If that’s translatable to a sound that is a little splash of Otis Redding and another of Al Green into what is his own breed of soul, then Shaw’s goods are the real deal. Too often, production is sacrificed for good songwriting, or the production is so slick that it’s too late when we notice how bad the lyrics are or how weak the performance is. Fortunately, Real Love seems to have each detail covered to bring together a great sophomore album of songs that are informed by the past but are rooted firmly in the present. The album launches off with the insistent declaration of the title track, setting the tone for the next eleven tracks to come. One of the highlight tracks is “Gone, Gone, Gone,” where Shaw sings “I shoulda put a ring on your finger, that’s what I shoulda done,” with soulful regret. In the swinging ballad “In Between,” Shaw recalls some of the greatest moments of Sam Cooke, whereas in “The Wrong Man,” he seems to be wholly himself.
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