There is something about El Debarge that makes me think back to the close friend who is invited over to dinner after a mysterious absence; there comes moments of happiness that the person is there, the uncomfortable silence of things that are almost always left unspoken. Sometimes, the need to start building new ties with the person occurs, who almost always has a bit of the old person still present. On Second Chance, it’s clear that the troubles that have plagued El Debarge are far behind himThe release does an efficient job of lining up songs where his unique vocal styling is in the front seat. For instance, “Close To You,” “When I See You,” and “Joyful,” mirror some of his classic material. The lead song “Lay With You” featuring Faith Evans is a nice introduction to what becomes a sort of homecoming for an old friend. In spite of a minor misstep that teams him up with 50 Cent, and somewhat over emotive title track “Second Chance,” there is no reason not to welcome El Debarge back into the fold.
While the material on Second Chance is quite straight forward and not very new, the album works, because it’s a comfortable move forward for an artist who is trying to make up for lost time. The album is a defining second chance.
-E. Esi Arthur