Review #404: Rapture, Anita Baker

Karla Clifton
2 min readJun 15, 2023

#404: Rapture, Anita Baker

Lots of Eighties ladies lately; see Diana Ross & Tina Turner.

Baker got her start as the frontwoman of a band called Chapter 8. She got booted when they moved to Arista Records, who didn’t think she had the necessary star quality to make them a success. Which is hilarious, because have you heard of Chapter 8? That’s what I thought.

So Baker set out on her own and released her own debut record without much fanfare. This one, her second record, made her a success. The songs were mostly bought from L.A. publishing houses — some of which are covers (see her much more successful take on Dionne Warwick’s “No One In The World”).

Earlier I lumped Baker in with Turner and Ross, but she really doesn’t sound like them. They’re rock and disco, respectively, and Baker isn’t anything close to that. In fact, she’s a genre I’ve never heard of: “quiet storm.” What the hell does that mean, you may ask yourself. Essentially, it’s an R&B subgenre, which is slightly jazzy, slow-paced, and almost always romantic. Rapture is true to form, with nearly every song about love and romance. The only one that flips the format is finale “Watch Your Step,” which is something of an angry love song. (Interestingly, it was the record’s lead single.)

I want to find the Arista Records exec who thought that Anita couldn’t carry a band by herself, because she has one of the most unique voices I’ve ever heard. It’s deep and luxurious, like a really rich cake. Honestly her vocal quality reminds me of Sade’s. See “Sweet Love,” “You Bring Me Joy,” and “Been So Long.” Husky is another word I’ve seen used to describe the record, but she’s capable of singing with a bright tone, too — see “Caught Up in the Rapture.”

Of course there are ways that this record seems a little dated now. Not that that’s a bad thing. I love the clicking noises and keyboards on “Mystery,” and the funky guitar and drum machine on “Same Ole Love (365 Days a Year),” but they do scream Eighties. It’ll be so interesting to see what people say about the music of today in forty years.

Baker lives in Michigan now. The last album she released was a Christmas album in 2005. What a career arc: getting kicked out of a band, making a legendary impact on the music industry, working for twenty odd years, then dipping. That’s the best version of the American dream.

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