Over the years Tommy Sims has worked with the likes of Garth Brooks, Joan Osborne, and Amy Grant. However, lovers of top quality music should take note. As a multi-talented singer, songwriter, producer, and musician, Sims is far from being merely a purveyor of either country or Christian rock. Indeed, it is only when one discovers that he has also worked with artists such as Michael McDonald, Kevon Edmonds, Eric Clapton, and Babyface, that you can really begin to appreciate who Sims really is: a performer with an exceptionally varied resume who can deliver quality music in a variety of different genres. Evidence of this can be found upon Peace & Love, which displays a whole variety of musical influences ranging from gospel to blues, funk, soul and folk.
Despite having been on the scene for quite some time it was not until last year that Sims really started to emerge from the background to establish himself as an artist in his own right. With a lucrative publishing contract already secured he proceeded to captivate the ears of the soul-buying public with his seriously retro “New Jam” (also featured here). Situated alongside the likes of Chico DeBarge’s “Ms.Wonderful,” Al Green’s “Love & Happiness,” and LTD’s “Love Ballad,” it originally surfaced, and arguably stole the show, on Universal’s Essence Men compilation. Existing on the hallowed ground that exists somewhere between Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Curtis Mayfield’s “You’re So Good to Me,” the swirling flutes and impeccable strings contribute to the creation of a sound that is distinctly rooted in the ’70s. There are even elements of Bobby Womack in there too. Since then Sims has also worked with Darwin Hobbs on the handclapping gospel number “Everyday” for his current Vertical album. Featuring the smooth vocal tones of Michael McDonald this song was once again seen as the sets highlight. But what of Sims’ own Peace & Love?
Having opened with the funky gospel of “100,” which comes complete with an extremely rousing choral finale, we effortlessly slip into the glorious mid-tempo dancer “When You Go.” With its sliding strings, tasty guitar work and enticing female vocals this is already huge in soul circles. Also not to be missed is the Al Green-influenced “So Alone” with its brassy stabs and Hammond organ fills. Not since Corey Glover’s sublime “Little Girl” have I heard a track that so unashamedly basks in the glory of the Reverend. Elsewhere Sims once again harks back to the ’70s with the socially conscious message of Peace & Love which again features a gospel-like finale, whilst he furnishes “Love’s Patience” with a delightful string intro, warm keys, acoustic guitar, and brass stabs, before building to a rock-inspired conclusion. In addition to these we have the folky “Which Way” and “Summer,” the latter of which features some nice harmonica work from Stevie Wonder, the heartfelt balladry of “(Let Me) Write One This Way,” and the particularly sincere “It Don’t Matter.”
Essentially what we have here is a top quality retro album that is at times drenched in the memory Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Womack, and the ’70s in general. To some extent one could say that this is an exceptionally strong “nu-soul” album. However, to do so would be somewhat unfair. There may be moments of sublime soul but at the same time Peace & Love is an album that defies such stringent categorisation. With its vast array of influences and an emphasis upon impeccable musicality, strong song writing, and flawless production, this is a release that demands to be heard across the musical spectrum. Thoroughly recommended.