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Josephine Mills - This Is Love [REVIEW - Gambit Weekly, May 2003]

(Orleans)

HELLLLO, Josephine. This newcomer knockout (and daughter of Rudy's Caribbean Funk bandleader Rudy Mills) is bound to turn some heads and perk some ears with her debut CD, one of the strongest contemporary R&B efforts to emerge out of New Orleans. This Is Love is stylish, filled with powerhouse vocal performances and memorable hooks and choruses, and worthy of mainstream recognition.

The beauty of Mills' CD is its break with the overused hallmarks of so much contemporary R&B: canned drum tracks and over-the-top vocals packing melisma into every line. The album was recorded with some of New Orleans' finest musicians, including keyboardist Willie Tee and saxophonist Brian "Breeze" Cayolle. Tracks such as "Dance With Me" still pulse with the slow-burn sexuality favored by the likes of Toni Braxton, but there's something thrilling about hearing Allen Poche's funky guitar lines, along with a few deftly placed keyboard blasts, that help propel Mills' urgent plea to boogie. Even more standard fare such as "I'm Gone," with its infidelity themes and wind chime-kissed soft-porn vibe, reaches new heights with an irresistible mantra-like chorus setting up Cayolle's call-and-response sax lines.

There's a clunker or two -- the title track especially drags -- but the hits far outweigh the misses, with "Lay Me Down" radiating serious heat and the eminently catchy refrain of "Gotta Do a Little More" evoking memories of the En Vogue smash "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It"). This Is Love makes a lasting impression on first listen and gets better each successive spin.

--- Scott Jordan

 

Originally published in Gambit Weekly [May 27th, 2003]


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