Sometimes, when a deplorable CD arrives in the post, you’ve never heard of the artist or the album and you’ve no idea what you’re in for. Other times they’re known to you in some way. This one immediately rang a bell: “Kavana”, the 1997 album by Kavana. I remember him. He did a cover of “I Can Make You Feel Good”, the Shalamar song. He was a late 90s pop star. Yes. Him. Great, I thought: maybe this will be an easy one. Maybe this will be like Suggs where I remembered one or two songs and the others were just a bit of a laugh.
This was not like Suggs. In fact it was unexpectedly hard work. Within three seconds of the album starting, it sounded like every N*Sync or Backstreet Boys boyband tune ever, and for parts of the album it does sound a bit like Kavana failed a Take That audition and then decided to just be Take That anyway. But this isn’t boyband material (and not just because he’s a solo artist). No: it’s RnB.
I was never a fan of RnB, so I was probably never going to give this a glowing review, but oh wow: white, English, solo RnB. I don’t think that was ever a thing the world needed.
Kavana (Anthony Kavanagh to his mum, 20 years old when this was released) harmonises with himself through all the songs because he hasn’t got, you know, a whole RnB group to harmonise with him. If you never listen to this the best description I can offer you is to think of the track “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men, and then imagine twelve less enjoyable copies of it.
Let’s see how this thing plays out.
|Track||Word 1||Word 2||Word 3||Word 4|
|1. Crazy Chance||Every||90s||pop||song|
|2. I Can Make You Feel Good||I||vaguely||remember||this|
|3. Where Are You||Plastic||Boyz||II||Men|
|4. MFEO (feat. Cutfather and Joe 7″)||Musically||Featureless||Excruciating||Ordure|
|5. Holdin’ Back on U||Seemingly||endless||soulful||sludge|
|6. Release It||Stevie||Wonder||joins||Blackstreet|
|7. Wait for the Day||I||hate||this||album|
|8. The Time is Right||Creepy||groany||moany||seduction|
|9. For the Very First Time||Disco||game||show||theme|
This is a long, long album – twelve tracks that last nearly an hour – so most of the songs are a solid four or five minutes, and some are longer. To pass the time I had a flick through the CD booklet, which contains lyrics to the songs and an awful lot of sultry pictures that suggest Kavana was being marketed at the teenage girl market that boybands usually aim for. It turns out he wrote a lot of these – but not many of the singles. The upbeat stuff appears to have been supplied by the record label and the more RnB/soulful/crooner numbers are Kavana’s own work.
One thing this album definitely has is a specific sound. A good six tracks start with a sort of synthy twinkling sound, like you’d use for a 1980s Christmas song. I counted eight that address the subject of the song as “baby”, but I’m certain I zoned out in the middle and missed some. I expect the actual number is all 12. And every song has plenty of “do do do do doo, woa woah, uh uh yeahhhh” stuff all over it.
Let’s face it, Kavana was never going to win me over because I never liked this type of music, so in some ways I feel a bit sorry for him. He’s just a pop star aimed at late 90s teenagers and evidently one made that way by a record company when what he really wanted was to be a soulful RnB singer. So in a FWR first, I’m going to say that my favourite thing about this album is that he has a genuinely good voice. The guy has talent.
My least favourite thing, on the other hand, is the publicity photo in the booklet that accompanies the lyrics for “Where Are You”, where the photographer has got him to literally pull his shirt open so you can see his nipples. Too much, Kavana. Too much. And after I said I liked your voice as well.