Bruno Mars/Anderson .Paak/Silk Sonic Made Modern Retro History
In all honesty, I thought real R&B Soul had gotten lost in a cave just like the Dead Sea Scrolls. Thank God Bruno and Anderson Paak went on an archeological dig in their recording studio and found those missing musical scrolls. There was a hole in R&B Soul someone finally filled. I can now come out from hiding behind my Jazz partition and no longer be bombarded by this empty prefab foolishness we've been exposed to for far too long. Any real musician will tell you there is a difference between just singing and singing with soul. There are actors and there are performers---Silk Sonic is the latter.
They bottled nostalgia and poured it back out like a flavorful Cabernet Sauvignon in their goblet of funky swag. What on earth did we do to deserve such a great level of music? Like Bootsy Collins said, "I don't know what you did when you did what you did, but you did it!"
Silk Sonic reminded me of every R&B group I've ever heard in my life! And they did it with just 8 cuts, a transitional intro, and no fillers. Those 8 cuts are hitting on all 8 cylinders of that '77 Monte Carlo Anderson Paak is driving in the tune "Fly As Me". Bruno said in a recent interview, "I told Andy if you can't get them with 9 or 10 you're not going to get them with 20." Like the good old days--- smaller quantity with greater quality. These 8 cuts are a breath of fresh air. It is so great to hear pure musical orchestration by real musicians that are also idyllic performers---flawless.
The Intro reminds you of Earth, Wind, and Fire with Bootsy Collins as the MC. The second cut 'Leave the Door Open' echoes the Delfonics' steps and falsetto with Marvin Gayes' cool. All of the talent is front and center. No horns---their voices are the horns. The groups' harmony is excellent. Bruno and Anderson compliment the song with their alternate vocals. "Fly As Me" is the third cut, which is a whimsical song composed of Anderson's rapping prowess and phenomenal percussions. "After Last Night" brings the Average White Band and Chilites to mind with a dose of EWF and the Funkateers. The bass lines from ThunderCat are ridiculous, a sprinkle of Bootsy's conversation and Silk's harmonic vocals are literally out of this world. "Smokin' Out the Window" is a comedy that works because of the excellent choreography, tight harmony, and great instrumentation. Bruno makes his vocal work look effortless.
With "Put On A Smile" your first instinct is this is an homage to Lenny Williams and Tower of Power with a dash of Hall and Oates for good measure. Anderson's vocals are exceptional here and there are just no words for Bruno's vocal range. Loved the background harmony. With "777" you feel James Brown's influence with Chicago's groove and a reference to MJ's moonwalk and his hit "Man in the Mirror." "Skate" places you in a rollerskating rink with a smile on your face enjoying a groovy sound---great vocals, basslines, percussions, and strings. And for the feast de la resistance is "Blast Off" --- the Ohio Players meet Earth Wind and Fire. The lead guitar riffs in the background are just beautiful as are the vocals. Close your eyes and drift into the stratosphere.
If you like phenomenal bass lines, great chord progressions, layered harmonies, unbelievable modulations in unexpected places---This modern retro sound is worth a sip. If there were ever a definition of a "Smooth Criminal", Silk Sonic will take your mind into their world. Which is not altogether a bad thing. This is the greatest collaboration I've heard in a very long time.
© 2021 CF Leach