Terri Walker for me is one of the unluckiest artists to come out of the UK because it was simply a case of timing to whether she blew up into the mainstream or not.
In 2003 UK R&B and Soul was rich with some wonderful artists such as Terri Walker and Shaun Escoffery but there wasn’t an appetite for it. America still had major recording R&B artists dominating the charts like Usher and Justin Timberlake.
When I look back at that time I think just how good Terri Walker was and how a decade later she would have surely been one of the most popular recording artists in the UK. But sadly pop music goes through phases and UK R&B was not part of that phase in 2003 despite Terri Walker releasing a quite wonderful debut album.
London Born Walker had been in the music business some time before the release of this album with her vocals present on the Shanks & Bigfoot song “Sing-A-Long”. But it was with “Untitled” where she developed into a artist with richness in her vocal and songs to rival any American female artists.
“Love Fool” kicks off the album. What I love about this song is that Walker straight away shows us a attitude which shows that she is control of her relationships. She doesn’t bow to any man and lets him know that she is aware of the game he is trying to play.
Ultimately this song is fun and I don’t believe Walker is in anyway trying to beg this individual to up his game but more so highlight the issues that he is unlikely to be able to change.
“Drawing Board” is more minimal in it’s instrumentation with some synth horns being introduced. The structure of the song is simple with Walker telling a story with a theme similar to “Love Fool” where she is meeting these men who fail to live up to her expectations and she has to go back to the drawing board. Again there is a humor to the lyrics and the vocal style Walker has is not just pleasant to listen to but also full of personality.
On the 3rd track “Guess You Didn’t Love Me” the tone changes significantly from the opening couple of tracks. I love the production on this track. It is akin to so many great Soul/R&B songs of that time and before. Walker keeps her vocal controlled on this track as she hits homes a serious point that this relationship is coming to it’s end and perhaps churlishly she is saying that if he wants to give up then he probably never loved her at all.
The track features a rap from the impressive Mos Def and gives the song greater character. This is such a great song and should be a UK R&B anthem.
“It’s All Good” certainly isn’t as strong as the previous tracks and is perhaps a little bit filler as it’s production is not as intricate and melody not as engaging.
But we are engaged once again with “Ching Ching (Lovin’ You Still)”. Driven by a piano the song is such a fun track. Walker sounds angelic on the albums big song which like much of the album is about love and in this case an unconditional love.
Walker is taking us on a journey of the different aspects of love from relationships that are breaking down, to relationships that she is desperate not to end and then songs like “Ching Ching” which is about love so strong that nothing can break it.
“Fake” further address the different emotions Walker feels and she is happy to express what is on her mind. She states that she doesn’t smile when she isn’t happy and wont conform to the usual falseness that many people portray. You feel there is more to this story than Walker reveals as something in her life with someone in particular has led her to have these views and that people want to play her best friend for no reason than they think she is the in thing.
My favourite song on the album is track 7 “What Will I Do”. As a soppy soul boy I probably was always going to lean towards this song. It’s been on my rotation on ipods, Iphones, and spotify for years. It’s a duet with ‘Blueblood’ whom I know little about and never heard of him again.
The song is just a fantastic slow jam. Walker shows that whilst she can be lively and charismatic on many of her songs when it comes to having to be real about love and life she can kick it with the best.
“Love You For Life” whilst a nice track is so similar to “Lifetime” by Maxwell in terms of it’s instrumentation. But this again is a departure from the more upbeat tracks we have heard on the album up to this point. Walker has a voice that sinks into your mind as the dream tone she produces makes for such a great listen.
One of the hidden gems on “Untitled” is the song “Deutchland”. Walker grew up in Germany and speaks the language fluently. Over this jazzy tune Walker sings in German and this main issue with this song is that it only lasts just over a minute. Wonderful stuff this one.
And that brilliance continues on “Dirty Weekend”. This is a song which embodies everything I love about Terri Walker’s music. It’s funky, its brassy, its bold and its got such attitude.
There is something very British about this track and Walker doesn’t sound like just another American female R&B singer that saturated the market at the time of this release. Walker essentially sings to her boyfriend that a weekend away for some alone time might be a good idea – it seems empty in it’s premises but when you listen to it you will realise that the whole thing makes sense.
Track 11 is “4 Feet Under”. One of the more underwhelming tracks on the set but the chorus is certainly one to sing along to. Perhaps as a man I find it difficult to relate to such a song about a man who is bugging and annoying her.
“Da Business” begins with a string section and goes into a mid tempo beat where Walker sings very softly and without any of the power we have heard previously. This is the only song on the set where Walker doesn’t really sound like herself. The comparisons to Erykah Badu were probably always going to be there but this is the one track that I can really understand those claims.
After “For Life -Reprise” we go into the final track on the album “Brand New Day”.
It is difficult to articulate just how much I love this song. Sounding like nothing else we have heard on the album the song can appear a little out of place but with the sentiment, the production and the vocal performance it all works so well.
This track is so far away from anything Walker would do on the following album “L-O-V-E”.
“Brand New Day” is uplifting and suits the theme of this album which is love and positivity.
Terri Walker never takes herself overly serious on her debut album. There is no pretention to her music or her lyrics. Yes they are honest songs but they are looking at life in a bright and forward thinking way.
It’s an album that has stayed with me throughout my adult life. This could be because of the time it was released and that I was going to university and took this with me to Southampton and it became almost a friend to me.
Off the back of this album I went to see Terri Walker live in London and was convinced I was looking at a superstar. And having revisited this album again, I am certain I was.