A Talent For Loving Reviews

Liverpool Sound and Vision

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

As debut albums go, Norman Kelsey’s unveiling as a solo star was nothing short of excellent. A Talent For Loving takes the young man on a ride that is heavily influenced by the sounds of Prince, soul masterpieces and the best that pop can inspire, a disparate range of emotions and one of the sweetest voices captured on disc.

Before the soul sound really took a hold on his second album, the stunning On The Rebound, this first offering was so cool it was permissible to wear shades whilst residing in its company and wallow in its superbly written arrangements and bask in the maturity. A Talent For Loving has that type of edge that drove fans wild over the aforementioned prince of pop but with none of the pretention that took hold of his career.

What you find sprinkled throughout the album are tracks that retain the idea of dance driven desirability and an honesty that is usually reserved for someone who has been around a few decades longer that Norman Kelsey has been. The hunger to get people to get up and take notice is a palpable beast, everyone has it somewhere within them but it some it enters the realms of being called a show-off or being detached from the audience. In Norman Kelsey’s case the music is the star, the vocal chords stretched to bursting in deference to the idea of what the young man is trying to get across.

There are some pretty amazing tracks on the record that just shout class, U Had The $, Everyone’s Ingenue, the fantastic Sucka and the storming Roosevelt’s Revue are class personified. You would perhaps expect a debut solo album to push the musician into being happy with just getting the name of the artist established, making sure that people knew who they were; not in Norman’s world, this is a young man who entered the world of music with all guns blazing and in desperate need of being told that no matter what he was going to be huge.


Shindig Magazine

"(Kelsey) has totally reinvented himself as a soul man! When I first saw him perform in this milieu at IPO Liverpool 2006, I was duly impressed; the man was Prince, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson rolled into one! Kelsey is the consummate showman who gives it his all... Put on the CD, point the laser to track four, grab a loved one, and prepare yourself for a romantic evening as you dance to 'Everything My Heart Desires.'"




Rating: 8 out of 10

"Norman Kelsey’s A Talent for Loving is a non-stop, dusk ‘til dawn party. From the opening beat of the title track, which is both boastful and believable, to the closing command of “Love Someone”, Kelsey takes you from the bar to the dance floor to the bedroom and back again several sweat-soaked times. He’s a soulful R&B powerhouse vocalist, and he’s somehow managed to combine perfectly some of the best elements of ‘60s-era soul and Motown with a sense of style and command not seen since Prince was at his funkiest. Tracks like “Done Lost My Mind” highlight Kelsey’s slow, seductive, soul skills, while songs such as “Fall Out” will, as the chorus says, “Rock you so hard / We falling out of your bed.” No worries if you’re all alone, either. A Talent for Loving will have you dancing your ass off all night, flying on a rhythm-induced endorphin high."


Folio Weekly


Dashing, debonair Norman Kelsey is an old soul with a funky new sound.

Norman Kelsey’s debut solo album, released at the beginning of this year, is described in the press material as “sexy dance floor fillers, heart-stopping slow jams and a stadium anthem about universal love.” Unlike the glad-handing drivel issued by most record label PR departments, this description is surprisingly accurate. “I really enjoy writing songs that are poppy, that people will want to dance to and smile when they hear the lyrics,” says Kelsey of the songs on “A Talent For Loving.”

The dashing 39-year old Jacksonville native and graduate of Terry Parker High School says he never realized his vocal abilities as a youngster. “I was kicked out of church choirs and removed from school choirs, so I didn’t really thing I could sing,” he says. “I liked singing, but nobody ever said ‘Hey, you’re a good singer,’ until my friends from high school [commented on my voice].

Kelsey is referring to a talent show during his senior year when his friends put a band together and asked him to sing. What seemed at first to be a novelty grew into a passion. “That was really where the bug bit me, and from that point on, all other aspirations kinda went to the side.”

After the talent show, the band, called The Flaming Yogurt, made its public debut at long-since-defunct alt-rock club Einstein a Go-Go in Jacksonville Beach . “One of the great memories of my musical career was playing there and knowing that that was the place to play at the time and that it has obtained legendary status,” says Kelsey. But the West Coast called, and soon Kelsey left his bandmates for LA.

For the past 15 years, Kelsey has been living and working on his solo career in Tinseltown while touring the UK as lead singer of Rush Hour Soul. He says that places like Liverpool dig his pop sound, which he considers thematically universal. “I try to take inspiration from just about everything,” says Kelsey. “People I meet, experiences that I have, books I read, if I see a movie that I think has a really great title.”

Kelsey is also heavily influenced by his Jacksonville childhood. Back in the ‘80s, Northeast Florida was a great place to see music, Kelsey says; he counts Duran Duran, Hall & Oates and Tom Petty among the bands he enjoyed seeing.

His friends back home still regard his career choice as strange, he imagines. “I think everyone thought I was going to be a politician or run for some sort of office,” says Kelsey. “But, actually, music is a better way to reach people, I think, and effect change in society.”



"Norman Kelsey - A Talent For Loving

Norman Kelsey's album is what I would expect the "first Lenny Kravitz album" to sound like. It's full of better than average rock, soul, funk, pop songs. Simple 3 minute songs with hooks, that you can bop down the boardwalk to while you snap your finger. It's also got a few GREAT songs, that would be automatic hit records if they could be heard by the masses. And it shows a hell of a lot of potential for the artist himself to become a "universal fusion artist." It's the kind of an album that you can put on, leave on and think that you are listening to a Top 40 radio station from back in the day, playing a diverse set of music that somehow all "works together." The album as a whole reminds me of hanging out at the beach all summer and hearing great summer songs coming out of tiny transistor radios, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, that get played on BOTH the Black stations and the white stations. Buy this album now, it gets better and better with each listen, but wait till the summertime to play it for your friends, so that they can become hooked on this album, and not even realize why."


DVD Movie Central

Album ****

"For years now, Norman Kelsey has been a shining star in the Los Angeles music scene as the charismatic frontman of bands such as Bat Country, Rush Hour Soul, and Idle Kings.  He has toured the world bringing his unique style of funk-infested pop and rock to fans on both sides of the Atlantic.  One might say he owes his fans a love letter.  A Talent for Loving is just that.

Breaking free from the confines of a group setting, Norman has finally chosen to step out on his own and release his first solo CD, and A Talent for Loving trumpets his arrival with bravado and confidence.  The singer, songwriter and bassist has been honing his chops and finely tuning his sound, which is a delightfully tight cornucopia of influences mixed into something new, fresh, and real.  You might hear a little Prince, a little James Brown, a little Chic, a little Motown, a little Beatles, or a little Lenny Kravitz.  These artists may provide an ingredient or two, but the soulful, danceable, soaringly harmonious end recipe is all Norman.

But wait...I know what you must be thinking.  In this age of the easily-downloadable single, why take my word for it that the album is a good as that?  Maybe purchasing entire CDs has become too 90s for today's music fans.  That's fine...then allow me to steer you in the right direction.  If you want to sample it using DigStation, let me recommend the first song and title track.  "A Talent For Loving" was named the catchiest song at last year's International Pop Overthrow festival when Norman played it in London, and you'll see why.  The sharp, jangling guitars and infectious hook will stick in your head, as well as get your feet moving.

Now doesn't it feel good to cut loose and dance?  Then why not keep your groove going?  Download "U Had the $" and the party won't have to stop.  Norman's punchy bass line, combined with his impeccable harmonies and a snappy guitar will make sure your party doesn't have to stop.  In fact, you can keep it going with a perfect trifecta of dance rock tunes.  Download "Sucka" and let the funky wah-wah guitars call you back to the floor, even if it's only the floor of your own house.

Whew...that's a lot of energy for just three songs.  By now, you might be needing a bit of a cool down.  Download "Everything My Heart Desires".  The CD's first ballad has a soaring chorus courtesy of Norman's amazing voice that seems to reach the stratosphere as he professes his love.  It's a 70s groove made modern, and such a beautiful tune that my fiancée and I are actually planning to have our first dance to it at our wedding next year.

Now that you're in the mood for romance, no need to stop there.  Download "Done Lost My Mind" for a gentle, open proclamation of sentiment.  Get that arm of yours around someone you love and let the music guide you to the next level.  But you shouldn't let the moment pass too quickly just because a song only lasts four minutes or so...be prepared, and download the spectacular "Love Someone", the album's finale, to make sure your night doesn't end too quickly.

Feels great, doesn't it?  Time for a little post-romantic encounter pick-me-up.  "Everyone's Ingénue" is the perfect download.  The Stones-esque guitars and hook will put a smile on your face, and the beat will get you back into the groove.

No need to stop there...keep it going.  "Fall Out" is a crisp, punchy slice of funk and soul that will have you moving again, and if you're really feeling it, "Roosevelt's Revue" will top off a perfect evening of fun and romance.  After that, you might as well enjoy a nightcap...I always like a little pure rock to wind myself down to, and if you're like me, you'll want to download "Down By Love" and "I Can't Cry For You", two songs that prove Norman is an artist as comfortable in rock as he is in soul.

By now, you've downloaded the entire album, and have had a total blast listening to it.  And you've also realized this isn't your standard-issue independent release.  A Talent For Loving is not some CD made in a guy's basement with a Radio Shack tape machine.  Norman took his talent for music all over the world, using top studios in both the US and the UK to deliver a polished, fully produced, radio-ready release that's bound to have the record companies leaning in for a closer listen.  As a music fan, I hear a lot of independent records, and as a reviewer, I enjoy telling our readers about ones they shouldn't pass up.  This is by far the best indie release I've heard to date.

If you haven't actually started the single downloads yet, may I go back to my original point?  A Talent for Loving is gigantic fun in a small package.  Norman offers a little something for everyone, whether your taste is to dance, romance, or just rock out.  It actually IS one of the rare offerings that merits buying the entire CD.  Your heart, soul, and feet will be thanking you for a long time to come."

- Mike Jacobson, DMC


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