From the early to the mid-'90s, a plethora of harmony groups - both male and female - dominated the pop and urban airwaves. The sound of four voices blended together was almost a throwback to decades earlier when classic Motown teams like The Temptations, The Miracles and The Four Tops ruled creating timeless music that still resonates today.
In an everchanging music marketplace, many of those '90s groups simply didn't survive but there were a few exceptions: the Los Angeles-based team of Tony Borowiak, Jamie Jones, Delious Kennedy, and Alfred Nevarez, known collectively as All-4-One were fortunate in having established a very strong international following by virtue of major hits such as their revival of The Tymes 1963 classic "So Much In Love," a 1994 chart-topping single and a cover of the country hit, " I Swear" (one of the longest-running #1 singles in Billboard's history) which earned them a 1994 Grammy Award as Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.
As a result, All-4-One - who achieved multi-platinum status with their 1994 debut self-titled album (recorded in just five weeks) and whose accolades include an American Music Award, Blockbuster Award and numerous international equivalents - has spent much of the last fifteen years consistently touring, performing and recording outside the U.S., particularly in Asia where they've become virtual household names, appearing in The Philippines, Malaysia, Korea, Thailand and Japan several times each year.
Now with the release of No Regrets, their debut album on Peak Records (August 25, 2009), All-4-One are focused once again on the U.S. market, mindful that this new sumptuous collection of pop and soul will also find favor with their global fans. The majestic opening cut "Key To Your Heart" and the inspiring "Day Life Began" are reminiscent of the kind of tunes that initially propelled the group to chart-topping status while the upbeat "Regret" has all the immediacy of a hit-bound radio and club friendly groove.
For good measure, All-4-One revive '90s female group For Real's "Don't Know Nothin'" as an accappella treat that is a showstopping album highlight; while the beautifully harmonic "My Child," with its potent subject matter (addressing the issue of children who are caught in the middle of husband-and-wife divorces and break ups) is one of the many standouts on No Regrets.
Produced by the group's Jamie Jones and his production team (The Heavyweights, whose credits include work with 2Pac, European hitmaker Anastacia, Pussycat Dolls Peak Records' Wayne Brady, Destiny Child's Michelle Williams and winners in Britain's "X Factor" TV show), No Regrets- their first U.S. release in seven years - represents a welcome return for All-4-One. Group member Delious notes, "It's all about timing: sometimes you have to lay low and then resurface as the market goes different musical phases. We feel there's a shift back to real music," and Jamie adds, "it was just time to do it! We got the itch to make a new record and the situation with Peak felt right..."
The album's creative direction focuses on three parts, as Jamie explains: "There's the classic pop sound for which we're known, a more contemporary side and then songs that reflect our love for old school R&B." The handclappin' "I Luv That Girl," the catchy "Good Start" and the soulful "Old Fashion Lovin'" typify the latter while "Go" is an obvious dance cut that may surprise loyal All-4-One fans who know the group for beautiful ballads like "If Your Heart's Not In It." A musically diverse platform for the quartet's vocal skills, No Regrets also includes the midtempo "If Sorry Never Comes" which Jamie (who co-wrote the song with Delious) explains "is all about a guy with a conscience! We're always looking for a way to be original in the songs we write, to say something lyrically in a different way."
The team began working on No Regrets last fall: "We put our elbow grease and tears into making this a classic album, front to back" and says Delious, "We really feel this is our best record to date. For instance, a song like "My Child" means a great deal to us because it comes from a very real place. I came up with the idea and my goal is that people will hear the song and it will change how they relate to their children." The finger-snappin' "Don't Know Nothin'" will remind listeners of early Take 6 tracks, an outstanding showcase for the intricate harmonies that distinguished All-4-One from many of their '90s competitors. "That's not an easy song, it's intricate with all its moving parts and vocal gymnastics," Delious shares, "but we think it turned out really well." In contrast, the foot-tappin' "Blowin' Me Up" has an insistent groove and Jamie describes it as "our European song - a mixture of (Brit soul star) Estelle meets (Brit funk/R&B man) Jamiroquai meets Michael Jackson!"
With their unique sound - derived from the distinctly different sound that each singer possesses (from Tony's high tenor and Alfred's true bass blended with the gospel-rooted vocals of lead singers Jamie and Delious) - All-4-One's latest album has all the elements that first brought All-4-One international popularity in the '90s - with chart hits like "I Can Love You Like That" (a Top 5 pop and chart-topping Adult Contemporary single), "She's Got Skillz," "Beautiful As U" and "Someday" - along with production values that are decidedly 2009. "We've been really blessed, staying friends, working together for the last fifteen years," says Jamie. "We know that we wouldn't have a career anywhere if we hadn't started out here at home, in the U.S. That set us up for what we've been able to do throughout the world." Now, says Delious, "Our voices are stronger, our harmonies are better, our showmanship has developed as a result of all the touring and performing we've done outside the U.S. Now we're ready to have renewed success in our home country - and take this album all around the world!"