Sweet Angel (New CD Review!)
Daddy B. Nice's #40 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Mr. Wrong's Gonna Get This Love Tonight"
Sweet Angel (New CD Review!)
July 16, 2017:
New CD Review!See Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews: SWEET ANGEL: Can't Walk Away
April 15, 2017:
New Album Alert!
Pre-Order Sweet Angel's new CAN'T WALK AWAY CD.
Listen to Sweet Angel singing "Actions Speak Louder Than Words" on YouTube.
Listen to Sweet Angel singing "I Wanna Ride It" on YouTube.
CAN'T WALK AWAY Track List:
1. Take a Look
2. Hold Back the Booga Bear
3. I Need a Real Love
4. Steps to Love (Remix)
5. Actions Speak Louder than Words
6. Juking at the Hole in the Wall (Remix)
7. I Got Your Back
8. Still Crazy for You (REMIX/Radio Version)
9. Can’t Walk Away (From Mr. Good Thang) (Radio Version)
10. I Wanna Ride It
11. How Low Can You Go?
12. Thrill is Real
13. This is My Prayer (If It’s for Me)
14. Still Crazy for You (Remix/Album Version)
15. Can’t Walk Away (From Mr. Good Thang) (Album Version)
Sample/Buy Sweet Angel's new CAN'T WALK AWAY CD at CD Baby.
--Daddy B. Nice
See "Tidbits" below for the latest updates on Sweet Angel, including Daddy B. Nice reviews of her CD's.
To automatically link to Sweet Angel's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other citations and references on the website, go to "Sweet Angel" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique:
I've watched Sweet Angel's career since the arrival of her first solo album, and I would be less than truthful if I didn't admit I was skeptical in the beginning. With the possible exception of the inimitable Shirley Brown, most female Southern Soul singers have followed the time-worn path of the trail-blazing Peggy Scott-Adams, whose straight-ahead, simple deliveries focused on power and authenticity over jazz-riffing embellishment.
Southern Soul legend Jackie Neal, whose career was cut short just when she was coming into her own, brought some of the sophistication of jazz-based R&B singers to the fore in songs like "He Don't Love Me, But He Can't Stand To See Me With Another Man," although the thickness of her vocal timbre masqueraded her vocal sophistication and allowed her to align with the more mainstream southern soul tradition of divas like Ann Peebles, Gwen McCrae, Millie Jackson, Denise LaSalle and Scott-Adams.
Sweet Angel, on the other hand, arrived on the scene like a latter-day Dinah Washington, as polished as your rich aunt's silver, while negotiating material that Southern Soul fans are more accustomed to hearing in the blues-based treatments of the singers mentioned.
Four solid CD's later, Sweet Angel's songs still don't sound like any other Southern Soul being made. The jazz and pop hints that made Dinah Washington a crossover star in the 1950's are there in Sweet Angel's delivery. It's what gives the songs their power.
It's also what makes Sweet Angel's songs sound suspect to the Southern Soul ear. At this point in time she represents the urban diva of Southern Soul from the northern and urban point of Southern Soul's world: Memphis. But that distinction hasn't deterred Sweet Angel from becoming an indispensable fixture of the Southern Soul scene, and with each new album her profile grows.
Another Man's Meat On My Plate, a bluesy ballad, is perhaps Sweet Angel's most well-known tune from her debut CD of the same title, but I've always considered Mike's Place the key track, and certainly the track that captured my attention. Ballads are routine fare for female singers, but when a woman succeeds at delivering a fast tune, it's a breakthrough.
A rocker memorializing the Memphis juke joint of Sweet Angel's husband and collaborator, Mac Dobbins, "Mike's Place" is by no means perfect. In fact, I've often wished the duo would give the song one more try in the studio, calling in all the know-how they've accrued over the last four albums. But you don't have to be perfect to get a whiff of Soul Heaven.
"If you go through Memphis,
Don't leave in a hurry.
There's a place called Mike's,
It'll take away your worries."
And. . .
"The walls are blue.
Dance floor be packed.
People all around,
Back to back.
They call it Mike's Place.
It's the place to be.
In the middle of hard times
In Memphis, Tennessee."
The italics are mine. That couplet--"In the middle of hard times/ In Memphis, Tennessee"--carries a whopper punch. I've lived below the favelas (slums on hillsides) in Rio de Janeiro. I've lived in the wilderness of downtown New York City before it was gentrified. I sold magazines door-to-door in the hoods bordering Woodward Avenue in Detroit the month before the riots and burnings. I've spent major time in south Jackson, Mississippi and any number of blighted neighborhoods and impoverished small towns throughout the country, but I've never seen streets as mean-looking and forbidding as some in Memphis.
And when Sweet Angel sings:
"In the middle of hard times
In Memphis, Tennessee."
--she knows of what she sings. So that when the couplet arrives it's such wonderful irony--a triumph of will and artistry in the midst of poverty and neglect.
The arrangement of the song has pop/jazz elements (mostly in the guise of its programmed horns) that might be eliminated in the interest of funking it up even more. The bass line is the backbone of the song and the engine delivering its power.
Dobbins and Sweet Angel actually redid the melody as a song called "Rock Me" (on the Handle Your Business CD), but what would be even more eventful would be to re-record the original with a more Southern Soul arrangement. Along with Sweet Angel's acquired seasoning in the three albums since her debut, the song might very well become a hit the second time around.
Regardless of "Mike's Place," Sweet Angel found fast-song nirvana on her third CD, Bold Bitch. The song. . . "Good Girls Do Bad Things."
Listen to Sweet Angel singing "Good Girls Do Bad Things" Live on YouTube.
Carried along by a great, John Ward-driven, fuzz-toned guitar, "Good Girls Do Bad Things" has one of the most delicious hooks in the Southern Soul canon. It's one of those songs you love the minute you hear the first few bars, even before the singer has sung a note.
"I was raised in the church.
My daddy was a deacon.
But my mind used to wander,
And bad thoughts kept on creeping.
One day in Sunday school,
This young man made a pass.
Oh, I felt myself sinking.
I was sinking real fast.
Good girls do bad things.
That's how the preacher got his wife
And the ------- (?).
Good girls do bad things.
I know it for myself.
That's how I got my man."
In fact, Sweet Angel's career took a major step forward with the release of her third and fourth CD's. With Bold Bitch (the third), it was all about "Good Girls Do Bad Things" and Sweet Angel's comfortable, pitch-perfect, emotionally-even vocal.
On her fourth CD, A Girl Like Me, it was the overall quality and variety of exceptional songs, led by "Last Night Was Your Last Night," "I'd Rather Be By Myself," "The Comfort Of My Man" and "Don't Be Lonely, Be Loved."
On A Girl Like Me Mac and Cliffeta Dobbins (Sweet Angel) wrote the bulk of the tunes themselves, sometimes aided by fellow songwriters Sherrie Thomas (who co-wrote "Good Girls Do Bad Things") and Adrianna Harrison, and the results are outstanding. Released in 2010, the music from this collection has gained stature with time.
And the songs cited don't even take into account the audience-pleasing, novelty "talker," "A Girl Like Me," in which Sweet Angel recounts her amusing flirtation with becoming one of Bobby Rush's background singers.
On her way to making a name for herself, Sweet Angel has defied, circumvented and overcome obstacles that routinely derail up-and-coming musicians. She has steadily forged an original brand without repeating, diluting or parodying herself.
As each new album has appeared, Sweet Angel's comfort level and expertise has risen, and while her initial efforts were almost cabaret-based--and strange to the blues and southern soul ear--she has absorbed the Southern Soul sound by some kind of osmosis, not only drawing the "feel" of the music into her own but doing so without compromising the musicial qualities--a clear, sparkling tone, an avoidance of fads, an unapologetic fealty to melody and the tradition of great singing--that brought her to the fore in the first place.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Sweet Angel (New CD Review!)
Clifetta Dobbins (her married, not maiden, name), also known as Sweet Angel, was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1964. She worked in real estate and banking until she met Mac "Mike" Dobbins, a Memphis musician, businessman and club-owner who became her husband and manager.
June 27, 2009 SWEET ANGEL: Bold Bitch (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.
Sweet Angel's newest effort, Bold Bitch, her third, is a gem of a CD. Bereft of an obvious hit single, it's nevertheless much more than the sum of its parts. The Ecko Records studio sound--John Ward on the rhythm track sequencing and refreshing real-guitar licks, Morris Williams on the background vocals, and the addition of real-horn fills, including sax on one or two noteworthy numbers--is as saucy and insoucient as it's been in ages.
Everyone sounds like they're having a really good time, and Sweet Angel's vocals provide a center of gravity that never wavers, even when she "spreads her wings," as she does on the redolent slow blues, "Let Me Be Your Angel."
This is music that doesn't plow new frontiers. The songs rework tried and true formulas in almost all cases, and yet the execution is so flawless you have to sit back and shake your head in wonder that you're listening to, for instance, the most basic chord progression in all of music in "Blow That Thang Sweet Angel" and nevertheless enjoying the heck out of it.
"Butt Up," the opening track, a competent little rocker, serves notice that the Ecko house band is in tight form. It also conjures up the memory of past Ecko tunes (Quinn Golden?, Chuck Roberson?) that seem to be on the tip of the tongue but never quite reveal themselves.
Speaking of tongues, "The Tongue Don't Need No Viagra" is in the "Yo Dog Is Killing My Cat" mode, a slow ballad with risque lyrics powered by a Sweet Angel vocal that oozes strength and composure. "Good Love" owns a pretty little hook that ushers in the tender side of the singer.
But more than any other cut on the album, "Don't Let The Clean Up Woman Pick Up Your Man" signals Sweet Angel's determination to push the envelope. The song, of course, is a take-off on Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman," but the verses are just unique enough to revitalize the song, and Sweet Angel's delivery surpasses any mere cover of the song that this writer has heard in recent years.
"I'm Moving Up" carries the highly-entertaining vibe forward. It has a lovely melody, and Sweet Angel slams it out of the park.
But the insinuating synth/guitar hook that snakes its way through the next track, "Good Girls Do Bad Things," marks the high point of the album. Sweet Angel rides the music like a veteran. Her trademark enunciation has never been as razor-sharp, her phrasing never more inspired. Vick Allen is currently getting a lot of air play for his "preacher" song, and Lenny Williams got a lot of attention with his "preacher" song a year ago, but when Sweet Angel sings:
"I was raised in the church.
My daddy was a deacon. . .
One day at Sunday school,
This young man made a pass. . .
Good girls do bad things. . .
I know it for myself.
That's how I got my man."
I get an immediacy and authenticity--perhaps because it's the female perspective--that trumps either of the more well-known, male-gender songs cited.
"Outside Tail" and "Bold Bitch" close out the album as effortlessly as a car salesman selling a pink Cadillac to Elvis up the street on Elvis Presley Boulevard. "Bold Bitch" is a reworking of Muddy Water's "I'm A Man."
Don't be deterred (or on the other hand, unduly turned on) by the provocative song titles. The lyrics are mild and won't be denied air play or consigned to the underground ala Clarence Carter's "Strokin'" or Marvin Sease's "Candy Licker." What the titles do establish is Sweet Angel's determination to carve out a space for herself in the crowded derby of Southern Soul female vocalists.
Ironically, Memphis, which in the sixties and seventies was the gritty R&B underbelly to Motown and Philly soul, has evolved into the "urban" sound of today's Southern Soul, the northernmost point, as it were, of the greater Delta region. Female singers from Memphis like Toni Green and Sweet Angel lack the gunny-sack roughness of the rural divas from Deep South like Ms. Jody and Karen Wolfe and are therefore always a little more suspect as true Southern Soul stars.
With her outstanding vocal clarity and precision, Sweet Angel sounds very "urban" for Southern Soul, even on this CD. In that respect Sweet Angel remains outside what most hardcore fans think of as mainstream Southern Soul. She is really more of a jazz singer, an (urban-sounding) blues singer, or what in New York night life is called a cabaret singer.
And yet, Bold Bitch is far too good to dismiss, and not that far, when you think of it, from the fingernail-tingling, fine-glass precision of Shirley Brown. It's Southern Soul--a little more urban, yes--but Southern Soul of the highest order. And Bold Bitch just begs you to keep playing it again and again.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced Bold Bitch CD
Posted: March 24, 2012
September 27, 2010: SWEET ANGEL: A Girl Like Me (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.In the opening and title cut to her new CD, A Girl Like Me, which is based on Bobby Rush's "Night Fishin'," Sweet Angel recounts how, at various times in her life, she asked Rush if she could be one of his dancing girls.
"Look, Bobby Rush,
Don't you wish you had
A girl like me?"
The first time, Bobby tells Sweet Angel that she's too young. (She's twenty-five at the time.) "Call me back in a few years," he tells her.
Ten years later, Sweet Angel shows up at a show and introduces herself to Bobby Rush again. "How old are you?" Bobby asks. "35 years old," Sweet Angel replies.
Then Bobby asks her how much she weighs.
"155 pounds," Sweet Angel says. "What's wrong now, Bobby Rush?"
Bobby Rush tells her she's too little--she needs to gain some weight. (Remember, this is the chitlin' circuit, folks,)
The third time, Sweet Angel (now well into her own career) finds herself opening up on the same venue with Bobby Rush. "You look like one of my dancing girls," Bobby says to Sweet Angel.
"Well, funny you should say that," Sweet Angel says, "because I asked you if I could be one of your dancing girls two times before."
Although it's a great novelty tune, "A Girl Like Me" is six minutes long. Even admitting the fact that it's done with a lot of verve and charm, it assumes you can tolerate hearing that bass line from "Night Fishin'," which was the same bass line as "I Ain't Studdin' You," which was the same bass line as some Bobby Rush song before that, without going crazy.
Charming as it is, I prefer the second track of the CD, "I"d Rather Be By Myself Than To Be Unhappy," a slow, stately ballad that is rapidly gaining deejay adherents across the country.
"Why do we hurt each other?
Why do we we make each other sad?
I don't know about you,
But I'm tired of the hurt."
How many long-standing marriages and relationships haven't experienced this very dilemma and these very words? Lush, well-orchestrated chords sail into one another like the rhythmic swells around a well-appointed yacht. The message reverberates with just the right tone.
The ballads "Mrs. Number Two" and "I've Got To Get Paid" are more generic and less enticing, as is the mid-tempo "What I Want, What I Need," which features a hook like a boxer punching a bag.
"Last Night Was Your Last Night," however, returns to the rarefied musical regions of "I'd Rather Be Alone."
"You used to tiptoe down my hall,
For a late-night booty call. . . "
At their best, as in this song, Sweet Angel and her husband, Mac A. Dobbins (who writes and produces her work, for the most part), achieve a fresh-sounding, aurally-perfect, sumptious kind of soul. Sweet Angel's vocal quality retains a subtle umbilical cord back to Dinah Washington, and that is the secret to her distinctiveness.
Sweet Angel's songs don't sound like any other Southern Soul being made. That hasn't changed since her first album. The jazz and pop hints that made Dinah Washington a crossover star are there in Sweet Angel's delivery. It's what gives the songs their power.
It's also what makes Sweet Angel's songs sound suspect to the Southern Soul ear. At this point in time she represents the urban diva of Southern Soul from the northern and urban point of Southern Soul's world: Memphis.
Sweet Angel gets bluesy on "Don't Be Lonely," which is reminiscent of "Another Man's Meat On My Plate" in its authoritative delivery and typically crisp arrangement. The background chorus is key, with the "don't be lonely" phrase softly repeated.
This is a generous album by any standards--thirteen fully-fleshed-out songs--and at a point when most CD's begin to flag, Sweet Angel is just getting started. "I Like The Money But I Don't Like The Job" is an uptempo blues you might imagine the singer dueting with a male Southern Soul singer onstage, although I still can't imagine her meshing with O. B. Buchana, whose work this cut recalls.
That's followed by another song about "jobs," "I'm Working On My Job," a very well-done ballad with a soft, feathery vocal and memorable melody.
This gem is followed by an even bigger surprise: a take-no-prisoners rocker (jazzy rocker, anyway) with a fantastic, piano-driven riff: "The Comfort Of My Man." Here Sweet Angel is working at the top of her art, fulfilling everything anyone expected of her and more.
Next up is "Roll," a playful, throwaway funk piece that I nevertheless liked even more than the title cut because its Beethoven-influenced back-up riff reminds me of--and may even have been inspired by--the musical climax of one of my favorite sci-fi movies, "The Fifth Element" with Bruce Willis, in which an exotic alien diva not only wows the galactic audience but carries (in her body) the "stones" that will save Earth.
"Do You Feel Alright?" and "Butt Up (remix)" close out the album, bringing it back down to earth so we can all head for the exits. But clocking out at an amazing sixty minutes or more of undiluted music, this CD--chock full of hummable singles--is another upward notch in the career of Sweet Angel.
Bargain-Priced A Girl Like Me CD, MP3's
Comparison-Priced A Girl Like Me CD
Daddy B. Nice Reviews Sweet Angel's MR. WRONG'S GONNA GET THIS LOVE TONIGHT CD
August 4, 2012:
SWEET ANGEL: Mr. Wrong Gonna Get This Love Tonight (901 Entertainment/Sweet Angel.org) Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.Call it a "speed bump," not a "pothole." Sweet Angel's newest CD, Mr. Wrong Gonna Get This Love Tonight, is the first lackluster effort in the Memphis diva's meteoric rise to Southern Soul prominence, culminating in a featured spot (one of only three performers) in a rare mainstream-media overview of the genre by Chuck Eddy in New York's "Village Voice" in 2011.
The raison d'etre for the new album is the stunning title cut, a romantic and overpoweringly beautiful single which for some reason isn't burning up the charts--at least not yet.
The ballad redefines and updates the use of string sections and keyboard washes in Southern Soul, grafting Sweet Angel's fully-ripened vocal prowess upon a musical background so smooth and so lush it fairly screams for a pop music breakthrough.
Listen to Sweet Angel singing "Mr. Wrong Gonna Get This Love Tonight" on YouTube while you read.
Written and arranged by Clifetta Dobbins (Sweet Angel herself) the melody is fresh and sure-handed, the lyrics vivid and to the point:
"I went out on the town,
Trying to ease my desires.
Every slow jam I heard
Just put gas on the fire.
This feeling's so strong,
It's controlling me.
I need Dr. Thrill-Good
To satisfy me.
I've waited oh so long
For Mister Right.
Looks like Mister Wrong
Will get this love tonight."
Towards the end of the tune, Sweet Angel puts the cherry on the top of the aural sundae by uttering--
"I feel the urge to merge."
--surely one of the most original, tasteful and "grown-folks"-friendly terms for sexual intercourse heard in a Southern Soul song in years.
Unfortunately, the rest of Mr. Wrong Gonna Get This Love Tonight, The CD is decidedly inferior, a kind of grab-bag of "B-sides" and unused oddities made all the more awkward by the brilliance of "Mr. Wrong Gonna Get This Love Tonight" the single, not to mention Sweet Angel's previous pattern of material-rich albums.
The oddities include yet another failed attempt at a zydeco tune ("Zydeco Funk") by a Southern Soul artist (see T. K. Soul, Kenne' Wayne, et al.), another unnecessary and unremarkable Southern Soul "stepping" song ("Soul Stepping"), and a retooled, thoroughly unspecial Sweet Angel sax exercise, "Blow That Thang Again," which may achieve a certain novelty onstage with Angel booty-rolling in a feather boa and leotard but only sounds vapid on record.
"Touch Me," a ballad, "Love Thief," a mid-tempo piece, and "Juking," a dance jam, at least have the integrity of new, viable songs, but they're not good enough to deflect the tapped-out feeling of the set, while a cover of "Don't Hurt No More" and an instrumental redoing of "Touch Me" only underline the paucity of fresh material.
"Love Thief," deserves some merit and special mention however, showcasing a fully-engaged Angel delivering an interesting vocal full of saucy shadings, vamping like a snarling feline on the chorus--"I was robbed."
And with a vintage John Ward rhythm track, "Juking (At The Hole In The Wall)" sounds like an Ecko Records out-take--even a keeper--and may yet find a niche on Southern Soul radio. (Despite Sweet Angel's previous releases on Ecko, no musicians from the label are credited.)
Sweet Angel's husband, manager and mentor Mac A. Dobbins produced, Reginald Cherry engineered, and "Sonny Boy" Fields (guitar), Lamar Davis (guitar on "Purple Rain"), Curtis Jones (keyboard) and Timothy Walker (with Jones on sequencing) also contributed. "Sonny Boy" Fields plies the fine, natural-sounding guitar solo on "Mr. Wrong Gonna Get This Love Tonight."
The album ends with "Purple Rain," Sweet Angel's bizarre yet strangely compelling cover of Prince's anthem, which has circulated for a couple of years now, and which--with its own long Sweet Angel saxophone solo--seems a fitting and finishing touch to this odd collection.
--Daddy B. Nice
Buy Or Sample Mr. Wrong Gonna Get This Love Tonight, The Single or The CD.
Listen to Sweet Angel playing sax live on "Purple Rain" on YouTube.
Browse through all of Sweet Angel's CD's in Daddy B. Nice's CD Store.
Read Daddy B. Nice's new Artist Guide To Sweet Angel.
May 28, 2012: New Album Alert
Mr. Wrong's Gonna Get This Love Tonight
January 29, 2013:
See Daddy B. Nice's Top 25 Southern Soul Singles of 2012: #7-ranked Sweet Angel's "Mr. Wrong's Gonna Get This Love Tonight"
Scroll down to "Tidbits" #6 to read Daddy B. Nice's CD Review.
February 1, 2014:
CHART CLIMBERS 2014!:
Sweet Angel and her hit Southern Soul single "Mr. Wrong's Gonna Get This Love Tonight" climbs from #49 to #40 on Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 21st Century Southern Soul Artist Countdown.
Go to the complete library of artist guides for Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 Countdown: 21st Century Southern Soul Artists
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love," you'll love Sweet Angel's "Good Girls Do Bad Things."
Honorary "B" Side
"Good Girls Do Bad Things"
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