Consumer Guide Album
John Forté: i, John [Transparent Music, 2002]
The way I read the news stories, Forté wasn't framed, he was stung--he probably did transport large quantities of cocaine for large sums of money. And the way I hear the music, this disregard for the social weal didn't destroy his empathy or his spirit. Nothing like a 14-year prison sentence to help you appreciate the simple life. But neither Slick Rick nor Chico DeBarge got the message, and lots of dull and/or overwrought art has come out of other musicians' ordeals. Forté has become a modest singer as opposed to an unremarkable rapper, echoing the eternal Marley, the collaborating Tricky, and his own onetime rabbi Wyclef Jean--whose absence from this project is as notable as the presence of Forté's Martha's Vineyard buddy and former employer Carly Simon, who also put up bail. Redemption songs meet kissoff songs and scores settled meet promises sworn as he sets his human-scale voice to human-scale tunes and his support network provides the comfort he so sorely needs.