Dorinda Clark-Cole – Take It Back
The timing of Take It Back, the third release from Dorinda Clark-Cole, seemed too good to be true. Released in the wake of the Clark Sisters garnering three long-overdue Grammys for their comeback smash Live: One Last Time, the disc was unleashed at the cusp of Clark mania, but the promotional push doesn’t belie the disc’s own strengths. Take It Back happens to be Clark-Cole’s strongest effort thus far, perhaps because it was recorded entirely in the studio: the Clarks have a thing for cutting albums live, but their charismatic background sometimes gets the best of them, resulting in naturally over-the-top vocalizations. Not so with Take It Back: while some songs do have an unmistakable COGIC stamp (”Take It Back,” ”Got to Hold On”), the controlled environment of the studio keeps Clark-Cole contained, resulting in some pretty terrific church. While Clark-Cole really kills this COGIC-styled material, she proves a stylish songstress in the more urbanized selections, like the breathtaking ”Yesterday,” an encouraging ballad that sounds like a long-lost b-side from 2nd Chance, the Elektra debut from sister Karen Clark-Sheard. Clark-Cole sounds hippest in songs like ”Return” (featuring cousin J. Moss) and ”It’s Okay” (a duet with niece Kierra ”KiKi” Sheard), but the more modern context is never out of place, mainly because Clark-Cole knows how to seesaw between sacred and secular sensibilities — that’s was one of the trademarks of the Clark Sisters. That’s the reason Take It Back isClark-Cole’s best album yet: more so than any other outing from a solo Clark, it succeeds at knitting together all the eras of the renowned gospel family — past, present, and future — all on one disc.