Terri Walker follows up her 2003 debut record Untitled with this assured record, hoping to secure at the very least another MOBO nomination for her wonderful singing. If there’s any justice that will be the least of her rewards, for I Am is the sound of an exceptional voice making the most of some extremely well written songs.
With so many R&B/soul divas having a chip on their shoulder these days it comes as something of a relief to find a singer as down to earth as Walker. Her readiness to deal with everyday subjects rather than the usual preoccupations is refreshing, not to mention the delivery, which at times reveals a sense of humour – something records from this genre are often sadly lacking.
Walker’s voice is adaptable to all kinds of subject matter. Alright With Me is a case in point – here, her man seems to be perceived by her friends as a bit of a geek, but she defends him to the hilt. After all, he doesn’t leave the toilet seat up, he makes her laugh and he keeps her happy. What more could a woman want?!
Clearly Terri’s keeping her side of the bargain as well, at least if Addicted is anything to go by. This is a steamy window track that brings out the very best in her richly soulful voice, an effortlessly sexy song that even finds time for some light humour in the form of rapper Ty‘s cameo towards the end, name-checking Marvin Gaye songs and lightly taking the rise out of his partner.
Meanwhile the title track betrays more than a hint of Erykah Badu in the vocal style, and Walker’s voice when set over a pointed piano accompaniment sounds great, making this an ode to self confidence if ever there was one. “I am the icing on your cake,” she trills – and it’s hard to disagree with her, especially as she still manages not to sound conceited. The same piano sets the scene for the reassuring No Matter Whatever, Walker’s commitment song, and a further reminder of her versatility.
While these are standout tracks the reality is the whole album maintains a high quality throughout, with the star clearly Walker’s voice. American influences are present but healthily so, and after a few listens the record lays bewitching claim to your stereo. You’d be silly to take it off.