Review: You Gotta Love The Life by Melissa Manchester
When I interviewed Melissa Manchester in December 2013, we talked about her upcoming album You Gotta Love The Life. That album will officially be released tomorrow, February 10, and I’m happy to report that it was well worth the wait. It’s a wonderfully diverse collection of songs that creates an unforgettable musical tapestry that is both modern and classic.
While my favorite track from the album is the gospel-infused vocal scorcher “I Know Who I Am,” nearly every song on this album is good, great or excellent. Other highlights include Manchester’s fabulous interpretation of the Ronettes classic “Be My Baby,” the hauntingly beautiful “The Other One” and the joyous album opener “You Gotta Love The Life.” And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention her lovely duet with Dionne Warwick on “Other End Of The Phone,” which is the last song Hal David wrote before passing away. Having these two legendary ladies of song sing these lyrics, accompanied by music written by Melissa Manchester, is a fitting tribute to David, an unparalleled musical icon.
Melissa Manchester’s You Gotta Love The Life is one of my favorite new albums of the year. It’s filled with beautiful music, poignant lyrics and soaring vocals by one of the most underrated songstresses of all time. If you love soulful, melodic, well-constructed music as much as I do, do yourself a favor and buy this album. It’s exceptional.
Melissa Manchester’s Track-By-Track Commentary
“You Gotta Love The Life”
- I chose this title for my milestone 20th album as the essence of my philosophy on 40 years of making music. This is the last song I wrote, near the end of the recording sessions, as a prologue which captures the album’s theme.
“Feelin’ For You”
- I co-wrote the album’s smoldering first single after being propositioned by a drunk in a juke joint. The tune is co-produced by Keb’ Mo’, who performs a guitar solo on the record.
“Be My Baby”
- On a fan’s suggestion following a live performance of the 50-year old Ronettes classic, I recorded this unique interpretation.
- This jazz duet was born when legendary percussionist Lenny Castro, who had agreed to play on the album, called from a recording session with Al Jarreau, who asked to be part of the new record.
“Other End Of The Phone”
- This song of enduring friendship, a duet with my idol, Dionne Warwick, featuring masterful piano playing by the late Joe Sample, is my sole collaboration with the late Hal David. I composed the music for what turned out to be Hal David’s last lyric.
“You Are My Heart”
- I was inspired to write this wedding song for my friends Bill and Steve after the Supreme Court struck down the federal statute forbidding gays from marriage.
“Let’s Face The Music And Dance/From This Moment On”
- Homage to the genius of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin in this samba-inspired take on two examples of the gold standard of the American popular song.
- This tender love song written by my brother-in-law is about my beautiful sister, Claudia. Dave Koz contributes a saxophone solo.
“Your Love Is Where I Live”
- This ballad, reuniting me with one of the co-writers of the 1982 hit single “You Should Hear How She Talks About You”, features a harmonica performance by Stevie Wonder.
“No There There”
- I didn’t know that Paul’s (Reiser) a musician. I went to a concert and it turned out that he had co-written several of the lovely songs that the artist was doing. He was there and I asked him if he would like to write (with me) and he said, “Sure.” I went to his home and we knocked it out.
“Open My Heart To Love”
- This uplifting new tune opens each performance in the tour.
“The Other One”
- I wrote this song of self-esteem as a solo for and by myself.
“I Know Who I Am”
- Originally recorded by Leona Lewis for Tyler Perry’s 2010 movie ‘For Colored Girls’, this rendition includes a chorus from the music program at Citrus College in Glendora, California, where I recorded You Gotta Love the Life.
- This bonus a cappella arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s romantic ballad from The King and I is available exclusively on the full album.