What Eagle-Eye Cherry
lacks in vocal prowess, he more than makes up for with attitude and style. And he certainly knows how to craft a melodic hook, a chorus that sticks in your head, and lyrics built for the masses, as witnessed by his 1998 hit "Save Tonight" and a number of songs on Living in the Present Future
. Funny that some of his best tunes are the ones that sit a little outside the tomb of accessibility. For instance, "One Good Reason" hinges on a blues riff brought to life by the steel sounds of a National guitar which lends an old-school, dirt road feel. Creative arrangements and production also lift "Been Here Once Before," "Promises Made," and "Together" out of the abyss of stale pop. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for "Are You Still Having Fun?," "Lonely Days (Miles Away)," and "Burning Up," which opens sounding a fair amount like "Save Tonight." They fall a little flat. Perhaps the centerpiece of the album is "Long Way Around," which jumps right out at you even on the first listen thanks to the sassy guest vocals of sister Neneh Cherry
. Her welcome presence adds a lightness and fun that is lacking on some of the other tracks. With 12 songs, Living in the Present Future
starts to feel somewhat long round about "She Didn't Believe." On top of that, "Wishing It Was" is an added bonus track on the U.K. disc and features Carlos Santana
in their duet from Supernatural. Although this offering is a bit uneven and stale in places, Cherry
throws out enough bones to make it pretty tasty.