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Sounds like … the vocal warmth of Luther Vandross and Ruben Studdard, plus the contemporary R&B flair of Brian McKnight, Babyface, and Anthony Hamilton.At a glance … Huff's long-awaited debut won't disappoint the ardent many who rooted for him on American Idol, but it might for those who like more individuality to their R&B.Track Listing Real Love (I Got It) Fortunes See What God Can Do Miracles Feels Like Heaven Count on You A Brighter Day Hold on to Love Bounce Only Love You Know Me
For every American Idol success story like Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson, there are at least a dozen others that are here today and forgotten tomorrow—Justin Guarini, Tamyra Gray, RJ Helton, and Jasmine Trias, to name a few. Whether its weak promotional efforts, cheap production, or a fickle fan base, these aspiring superstars quickly fade into oblivion when the new TV season begins.
But perhaps not finalist George Huff and his long awaited debut, Miracles. In a noticeable turnaround from his ill-conceived My Christmas EP! in 2004, Word Records is clearly trying to make this R&B-flavored offering a hit. That's evident in the A-list of producers and writers behind it, including folks who have worked with the likes of Barry Manilow, R. Kelly, Cher, and Barbra Streisand—people who know pop music.
Universality and likeability are the major strengths of Miracles, as execution and melodic strength take precedence over lyricism or singularity. Since Idols are all about their voice, it's no surprise the first thing you notice about the title track or the mid-tempo "Feels Like Heaven" is Huff's impeccable Luther-like crooning. Closer inspection, however, reveals the bulk of Miracles to be inspirational, gospel-lite fare—the type of positive fluff Idol fans and Diane Warren clients swoon over. A few songs ("Fortunes," "See What God Can Do") have a sharper spiritual edge, particularly the ones Huff had a hand in writing. The rest ("Only Love," "You Know Me," "Count on You") are nice but ambiguous.
On the whole, it's a smooth, soulful, above-average debut. Here's hoping it doesn't take a miraculous intervention to get Huff to assert his identity more fully the next time around.