While the traits most frowned upon by his detractors were in ample evidence — the sometimes ostentatious influences, a penchant for flowery lyrics, a pronounced spirituality that borders on precious — D’Arby’s talent is undeniable.The superfunk of “Do You Love Me Like You Say?” and pumped-up psychedelia of “Read My Lips” were showstoppers, but the quieter moments proved equally compelling, such as the wrenching ballad “If You Go Before Me” and the sweetly deferential “Let Her Down Easy.” In between, such highly evocative numbers such as the Moorish-flavored dirge “Castilian Blue” and the staccato-paced “Vibrator” are testament to the complexity and daring of D’Arby’s musical designs. And if D’Arby has a tendency toget a bit too wrapped up in the cult of his own personality, exemplified by the stage backdrop — a prominent TTD symbol, with its masculine/feminine duality — his stage demeanor suggested an artist all too eager to share his gifts yet humble enough to let the work speak for itself.
Terence Trent D'Arby
(Hollywood American Legion Hall; capacity 800; $ 17.50)
Presented by Philip Blaine/Avalon Attractions. Band: Louis Metoyer, Kevin Wyatt , David Judy, John Pahmer, Stephen Theard. Reviewed Aug. 16, 1995. The merciless acoustics at the Hollywood American Legion Hall would be a daunting obstacle for any performer to overcome. Combine this with a generally muddy mix and, for a while there, Terence Trent D'Arby appeared to be fighting a losing battle. But the strength of his repertoire and the tenacity of one of the hardest-working men in show business managed to cut through the incessant din. Leaning heavily on material from his current LP "Vibrator" and its woefully undervalued predecessor, "Symphony or Damn," D'Arby summoned up some James Brown along with the ghosts of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke without taking away from his own distinct voice.
With vocals that range from fine-grit honey to burlap-rough, the elasticity of D'Arby's singing is a wonder to behold, with the kind of emotive falsetto that recalls early '70s Stevie Wonder.