Norman Brown, "Sending My Love"

80 Billboard Rating

If you're looking for respite from an issue-plagued world that seems to be spinning off its axis, Norman Brown's latest album, "Sending My Love," offers a chill-out escape hatch. The guitarist-who either wrote or co-wrote nine of the 10 tracks-immediately sets the mood with easygoing opener "Come Go With Me." He slows down the groove on the track "Here's My Number," spices up the proceedings with the Latin-flavored "Play Time" and draws creative inspiration from contemporary R&B/hip-hop on "I'm Pouring My Heart Out" and "One Last Goodbye." One of the set's more poignant moments comes during Brown's cover of Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home." Featuring the harmonic grounding of veteran ensemble Sounds of Blackness, the song was co-arranged by Brown's daughter, Rochella, who joins dad on lead vocals. While Brown may not necessarily be reinventing the wheel, the guitarist's diverse, expressive riffing is still formidable. And "Sending My Love" is still good music that requires listeners to do just one thing: kick back and enjoy the ride.

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