Don't Hold Back

Public Announcement

RCA Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Listening to Don't Hold Back, the latest release from Chicago's own Public Announcement, I found myself struck by the concept that they reminded me a lot of R. Kelly. That's about the time I visited the band's website and discovered that Kelly had once been a member of this group. (Can you tell I don't listen to nearly enough urban-contemporary music in my diet?)

Following the collapse of A&M Records through merger (and subsequent release from Interscope) and the departure of Euclid Gray, one could understand why it took the r&b quartet this long to follow up my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 All Work, No Play - and risk falling behind other acts jockeying for public attention. But the addition of Ace Watkins seems to have breathed some new life into the remaining members - Earl Robinson, Feloney Davis and Glenn Wright - and this disc, while a little slow at times, proves to be worth the wait.

Best known for their slow jams, Public Announcement show they're not afraid to let the beat and the groove take things over on Don't Hold Back, from the energy-to-spare title track to the first single "Mamacita" to the Montell Jordan-like "Long Long Summer (We Can)". At times, the sexuality gets to be a little too much, as on "Papi" and "Rithickulous," but I'll admit it's not as lascivious as some things I've heard over the years. Besides, it could be argued that Public Announcement is just following in the path of someone like Barry White.

What's interesting to me is that, despite Public Announcement wanting to grow past the slow jam ballads, it is this style which seems to suit them the best. Songs like "Man Ain't Supposed To Cry," "When I See You" and "Lose A Love" are all pristine examples of what this group is capable of, and they can set the mood almost as well as a candlelight dinner and an expensive bottle of wine.

For all of the positive things one could say about Don't Hold Back, sometimes the production of this disc suggests that someone is indeed holding back. The beats and arrangements often lean toward the sparse side - and, on occasion, this is the perfect arrangement style. But some of these tracks almost beg for richer orchestration, and they're regrettably deprived of it. Public Announcement has proven they can do fast and slow tempos well; maybe they could add the final piece to the puzzle the next time around.

Still, Don't Hold Back is an enjoyable disc that should reaffirm to their fans (as well as afficionados of r&b) that this group is not only back, but in it for the long haul.

Rating: B

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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA Records, and is used for informational purposes only.