Jul 162017
 

from UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

written by Mike Reid & Allen Shamblin

Out February 4, 2014, Unconditional Love was the sixth cd release by American Idol alumni and superb r&b singer, Ruben Studdard. Studdard’s mentor, David Foster, signed him to Verve and oversaw the whole project, producing and playing on selected tracks. Unconditional Love was a meticulously crafted cd in the most noble r&b tradition. This recording was chocked-full of intimate ballads and glorious danceable numbers, all sporting an irresistible, old-school feel that echoed the legendary works of the late Luther Vandross (April 20, 1951 to July 1, 2005).

This week, the focus is on Studdard’s elegant cover of Bonnie Raitt’s 1991 hit ballad, “I Can’t Make You Love Me. ”  Co-written by noted country tunesmiths Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin, Ms. Raitt’s take of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” became a Top Twenty hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 and a Top Ten hit on the Adult Contemporary chart. The song’s beautiful melody immediately attracted a large number of covers including the late George Michael (June 25, 1963 to December 25, 2016) and Prince (June 7, 1958 to April 21, 2016), Boyz II Men, Kelly Clarkson and Bon Iver. In Foster’s capable hands, Studdard’s rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” becomes a sophisticated soul affair with a nocturnal feel. Here, the so-called Velvet Teddy Bear delivers a stunning vocal, his tender performance so full of passion. Foster is on the backing track with his electric piano playing and various synths enhance the colorful, rarefied taste of the arrangement. With the help of Jochem van der Saag in the control room, the production of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” is also deemed a big success.
Since the late seventies, it was an event for music lovers when the Hitman brought his adult pop skills to the r&b field. Unconditional Love was no exception. Look in the archives for reviews of two other gems from this cd; the single “Meant To Be,” a Foster co-write, plus a wonderful cover of Burt Bacharach’s “(They Long To Be) Close To You” featuring the great Stevie Wonder on harmonica.


Listen

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Lead Vocals: Ruben Studdard
Keyboards: David Foster
Synths, Programming & Sound Design: Jochem van der Saag

Arranged by David Foster
Produced by David Foster & Jochem van der Saag


Lyrics

Turn down the lights
Turn down the bed
Turn down these voices inside my head
Lay down with me
Tell me no lies
Just hold me close, don’t patronize
Don’t patronize me

‘Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see
The love you don’t feel when you’re holding me
Morning will come and I’ll do what’s right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
And I will give up this fight

‘Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t