It’s been a while since Jody Watley’s last successful record, 1991’s Affairs of the Heart. Since then, Watley released the sorely underrated Intimacy and a poorly handled comeback album on Atlantic Records. Her new album, Midnight Lounge, is essentially an assemblage of collaborations and cuts recorded independently over the last few years. The jazz-house hybrid “I Love to Love” is a Masters at Work production from 2000 featuring Roy Ayers while 2001’s “Saturday Night Experience” is remixed here by Ron Trent. Rather than take the more obvious mainstream route of other soul-singers-turned-clubland-divas, Watley has opted for a more underground sound. Her sultry, smoky voice is a perfect match for the housey beats of “Whenever…” and the disco-funk of “Photographs.” Watley has built a career—and simultaneously undermined it—by taking chances, and Midnight Lounge is no exception. The album includes a striking drum n’ bass track called “More” and a stark rendition of Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up.” The album is a decidedly uplifting affair, focused on “good times,” hitting the dancefloor and celebrating life. One can’t help but think Watley takes Gabriel’s lyrics to heart: “No one wants you when you lose…Don’t give up/You’re not beat yet.”
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