One of the stalwarts of house music has taken control of his own destiny, with David Morales releasing 2 Worlds Collide on his own DMI label. Morales has been at the forefront of dance music in New York for nigh on twenty-five years, earning his stripes as a DJ and remixer par excellence. More recently he has made a mark with his own compositions – Needin U was one of the best late 90s piano-led house tunes, and Higher a hugely uplifting vocal house track.
Morales always secured a classy production when on remix duty, with Mariah Carey‘s Dream Lover and Fantasy, or Jamiroquai‘s Space Cowboy and Cosmic Girl just some of the efforts that made him a massive catch. These values form a solid base for the album, with Morales choosing to employ younger and lesser known vocalists, securing good performances without any posturing.
The opening kick drum of Here I Am sets the scene. Brass stabs follow, a solid bass – the sort of tune you’d hear just as the night warms up, with sweetly understated vocals from Tamra Keenan. An assured start, the baton picked up by Feels Good, which heads out onto the dancefloor with a loop plucked straight out of the late 80s. This time Angela Hunte provides the smoky vocals. The glossy sheen remains, with sharp keyboard prods and intricate string patterns weaving their way round the singer.
Realising that an entire album of this could lead to mediocrity, Morales toughens the beat and bassline for Holding On, and introduces a welcome vulnerability and a dark side for U Came, the most affecting track here.
Keenan appears on this and the title track, the most intriguing lyrically. The opening build up is paced to perfection, then Keenan’s vocal, bringing to mind Billie Ray Martin, sings “I just feel like a man inside, a woman’s body that’s where I hide”. Not the sort of lyric you tend to find in a vocal house tune – and an indication of Morales’ increased skill as a lyricist.
To close, Vivian Sessoms opens Take My Love without accompaniment, and it’s these seemingly minor variations between tracks that prevent the record from staying one dimensional. As it is the album is probably best heard in more than one sitting, as it hits the same tempo throughout and is exclusively female vocals over house beats. Classy ones at that mind, and the well crafted songs, despite occasionally outstaying their welcome, stick in the mind and hit an emotional groove as well as a rhythmic one.