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Timothy Moloi - Love That Music

2009-08-13 14:08
Love That Music
The smooth-toned teddy bear eases you into the album with the melodic, finger-snapping, doo-wop title track before rolling into the soft, acoustic-driven, Des’ree-sounding “Friday Morning”. 

Next up is “Don’t Tell Me It’s Over” where things get a bit funkier: jazz flavoured R&B vibes are stretched over a rhythmically halting song structure, complete with a classic R&B bridge fuelled with trumpets and sharp keyboard samples. “Don’t You Worry About a Thing” then rolls back to the acoustic with sharp riffs lying beneath harmonising voices, and a short,  tap-your-feet treble that makes you feel like reclining and closing your eyes as you let the music in.

Love That Music is catchy – in a laid-back, soothing, kind of way. Moloi only lets himself go on three occasions: the fiery and wildly celebratory jazz-trumpet-heavy “Give Me Your Love”, the 80s electric karaoke-rock ‘n rolling “Won’t Turn Back” and the electronic 90’s disco throwback “Burn Out” (yes, a Hotstix cover). But for the most part the album’s instrumentation is calm and inobtrusive, allowing Timothy’s voice to weave through without much hassle as it blends smoothly into a sonic palette coloured by 90s American urban contemporary balladry, symphonic soul, and traditional big band pop.

Don’t be fooled. The music might be quiet, but Timothy Moloi’s voice isn’t ‘easy listening’.  In fact, at times you can almost picture him – suave and smooth, swinging across the stage before dipping down, eyes passionately shut, to root out a particularly tenacious note. But where the voice triumphs and the music rises, you soon find, is also where the lyrics falter and the captivation dips. Moloi writes simply – too simply. There is a thin tightrope that stretches itself taut between basic pop-accessibility and vapid cliché, and the burly baritone often keels over to the left before hitting the mark.  Of course an album isn’t a novel or a recitation, so many might be willing to forgive his poor trapeze skills on the pen. But still, you can’t help but feel that the effect of songs such as “Friday Morning” (hope), “Don’t Tell Me It’s Over” (heartbreak), and “Don’t You Worry About a Thing” (persistence) are weighed down and compromised by a gnawing feeling of having heard it all before. Going through the 12 tracks you somehow wish that the voice in Live That Music sounded more challenged; like there were things, buried things that were pitching up to the surface. It’s rich enough, sure, but without a sense of substance beneath it, it goes for the placidly pleasant instead of the powerful and provocative.

And that’s the thing with the album. Love That Music is well-sung and well-played – but it isn’t very interesting. There's too much of the corporate performer and too little of the artist. At times, the music sounds as if Moloi were covering an array of old and likeable VH1 favourites instead of bringing forward the work of a South African vocalist with a trans-Atlantic story. Save for his voice and a few lyrics, nothing in the album speaks of being South African – a drawback not aided by the fact that the album is written and performed, from front to back, in English.  

Love That Music has a better shot at being an MOR crossover pop hit than it does at turning over the seasoned adult-contemporary/afro-soul listener.

Perhaps Moloi needs to retrace his steps and look deeper.
Timothy Moloi has been keeping busy. A Frank Sinatra stage production, a collabo with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, a performance at the World Summit, and various closed corporate-stages all mark part of his resume. 'Love That Music' is his debut album.

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