Listening to Luther Vandross' latest album takes on added urgency and poignancy given his current medical condition, which finds him still hospitalized after a severe stroke in May. That notwithstanding, "Dance With My Father," due this week from J, is signature Luther: hot-buttered vocals dripping over lush ballads, with occasional midtempo spikes.
Leading the way are the moving title track, the sparse "Buy Me a Rose," and the gospel-tinged "Right in the Middle." The artist's penchant for choosing choice old-school cuts remains unerring. His vocal parlay with a soulfully sophisticated Beyonce Knowles on the Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway classic "The Closer I Get to You" is heavenly.
"He really had worked on his own on the album, and indeed had arranged for all the duets on his own," says J head Clive Davis. "He was the one that reached out for each of the duet partners."
Vandross has been hospitalized in New York since an April stroke. According to reports, he contracted pneumonia and needed a tracheotomy assist his breathing, but it remains unclear whether he has suffered paralysis or nerve damage.