Richie pursued fresh directions with Just For You, resulting in his broadest-reaching effort to date. He journeyed to England to work again with Paul Barry and Mark Taylor ( the duo behind Cher's smash "Believe") who were also part of Richie's last studio album Renaissance. Released in 2001, Renaissance sold more than two million copies worldwide. Then he went to Miami to get the vibe of 7 Aurelius, who's made hits with Mariah Carey, Ja Rule and Ashanti.
And while Richie was in Florida, Lenny Kravitz dropped by to check things out. "And Lenny said, 'So we're not gonna do anything together?" Richie recalls with a laugh. "And the next thing I know, we recorded three songs." Richie took "Road To Heaven" (produced by Kravitz and written by 7 Aurelius) and "Time of Our Life" for Just For You, and "Destiny," their other song, will appear on Kravitz's next effort.
Throughout this process, Richie pursued one creative goal and vision for the album. "I wanted to be as organic as possible," he explains, "no gimmicks, nothing flowery. It's kind of an old-fashioned way of doing things, but I wanted a kind of rawness and natural sound to everything."
Just For You then, is full of those organic kind of touches. The stirring rhythmic throb of the title track. The folky Celtic flavor of "Just 2 Be With You." The Middle Eastern whirl of "She's Amazing" and the soulful gospel anthemics of "I Still Believe." The ebb and flow of "Ball & Chain," which starts with just Richie's voice and an acoustic guitar and builds to a sweeping, electrified rock bridge.
The song "One World" was another new avenue for Richie. This time out, the co-writer of "We Are the World," the all-star USA For Africa hit for famine relief, goes even further on a socio-political limb, making observations with an inherent optimism amidst equally probing songs about loves won and lost.
"I've never gone into politics or religion that much," he says, "but on this album it was kind of necessary for me to say the phrases that people are thinking. Because here we are again; the world seems to be in turmoil, but the world has always been in turmoil. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
"I want to send a message to the world that says 'People, as critical as it looks, we're OK. We are in control, whether we feel it or not."