Fans of smooth jazz appreciated guitarist/vocalist George Benson
's last album, 2006's Givin' It Up
, a collaboration with Al Jarreau
. While the two seemed to have great fun covering each other's songs as well as other soul and jazz classics, they sounded somewhat reserved, as if afraid to really cut loose. Benson's followup, Songs and Stories
, features him doing what he does best: jazz-inflected R&B. While some cuts venture into smooth jazz territory, others allow him to display his funkier side.
For Songs and Stories
, Benson selected songs that spoke to him lyrically. James Taylor's Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" gets a sultry makeover, while Donnie Hathaway's classic Someday We'll All Be Free" also benefits from Benson's jazz-influenced version.