Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Drop and give me 10 for the R&B general! Ten for ten, how about one of the best R&B singers the world has ever seen? With two of the others, Ginuwine and Tyrese by his TGT side. How about three times a lady worth of soul classics that would make a Commodore proud like his live Soul Train cover of Richie's 'Zoom'? Let's hear it for one of the best artists out there today, regardless of genre. Let's hear it for five releases over the last half-decade including a mixtape and super, supergroup project. The soul sixth sense of producing rhythm and blues hits for the likes of massive movie star and classic comedian friend Jamie Foxx and the queen of R&B Aaliyah. The seventh seal of the sacrimony of Sunday morning music supplementing Saturday nights sin. The eight wonder of urban music from hip-hop to real heart and soul. Nine is the number of Grammy Awards and counting this eight time nominee can hope to see as he now has a top ten hit with his new sublime single 'You're My Star' from the R&B battalion, soul soldiers forthcoming 'Stronger' album that sees our soul star take it back to the good ole Motown days of Wonder, Stevie, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke and more like the instant vintage of 'Stone Rollin'' modern day legend Raphael Saadiq and the way he sees and hears it. If that wasn't enough for the man that followed 2012 and one of his best albums 'This Is How I Feel' with his 'Three Kings' TGT project and tour with 'Pony' 'Bachelor' legend Ginuwine and 'Fast & Furious', 'Transformer' movie star and book writer Tyrese last year, the man is about to flip 'The Preachers Kid' script to more acting too. The hardest working man in R&B just filled up his dance card. It's time to step in his name of love. Don't make him write another 'Underrated'.
"I done wrote songs that made tears fall/I done wrote songs that made your ex call/Songs that'll make grown men get down on bended knee/And the things that I do you only gone get from me but I'm so underrated". We couldn't say it better than the man himself he's got a God's gift but still they don't hear him...they're about to. He's "made companies a lot of paper" and "not even peaked yet" and it's about to get even bigger and better for the Diesel muscle bound talent with his feel-good sound of 'You're My Star' and its black and white artwork dedication to the great women of generations gone by. He's patiently waited and it's about that time. Critics put down your pens and arms and open some, this is a man who already had a new, big-hit single last year-even when his TGT project was out-with 'Shots Fired' in the club. A great, second song and follow up to the swear-its-good singled out 'Lonely'-and their first 'Foreplay' collaboration-with controversial star Chris Brown. Able to make hits with a troubled industry guy like this confirms one thing to even the love lost haters...this Tank is bulletproof. He's "switching the style up" and is about to "watch the money pile up", hate or love it not. With 'Stronger' set to strong arm the scorching Summer like a movie-making blockbuster like his 'Three Kings' royal appointment with the R&B throne did last year. The king has spoken and this is truly his year like sitting courtside watching the King James in Miami. It's about to get real hot for this Buck from Milwaukee and heads are about to roll.
The 'Blackground' of this model 'Atlantic' records all singing and dancing talent has more in his locked and loaded discography than you think. This is the man that unchained 'Django' and 'Ray' movie megastar Jamie Foxx's soul sound with the writing and production of the likes of 'This Love' and some brilliant, underrated, crate finding B-sides for the record ('Did We', 'Come On Over', 'Marching On' and 'Till I Met Your Sister'). The two recentely showed Toronto and New York's Niagara Falls a concert wonder. This is a guy who's dynamically duetted with the likes of Keyshia Cole ('Tired Of Doing Me') and seemingly everyone on R&B on the big, brillaint soul teamwork, posses cut 'If You Dream' from the LeBron James hoops documentary 'More Than A Game'. A song that began brilliantly with Tank's legcay lasting lyrics of, "I never thought the sun would shine my way/All I've known is empty promises and pain/I need a way out or some type of escape/So I take refuge in this place". This is the kind of depth and decadence that puts this grown-man on the R. Kelly in R&B king scale in this young Ne-Yo and Chris Brown and vocoder world of modern-day, watered down R&B. Still, today even in father time this mans taking all the kids to school and proving real soul comes from the heart and not the autotune. Even if theres a Roger Troutman, Blacksteet style talk box, voice distort on the end of TGT's hit single 'Sex Never Felt Better'. Still, different to the vocoder the talk box modifies musical instrument and when talented singers like Tank's voices are instruments in themselves then this actually makes for some inspired sounds of epic experimentation. See 'Off Your Hands' or the 'This Is How I Feel (Interlude)' songs off his last great album...and you thought Jamie Foxx's electronic Electro voice off the new 'Amazing Spider-Man' movie was cool.
This Hawk of an R&B Avenger arrows the game like a shot from cupids heart. Whether with a plastic tube in his mouth or not this guys changing the frequency of the game and putting the heart paddles to R&B and resucitating it. 'Three Kings' showed the youth what R&B had been missing from it's 30 something generation and Tank manned the lion share of the boards and production all the way to Christmas days 'Be My Holiday' generous gift of good free download tidings. From the 'Lonely' like 'Take It Wrong' intro to standouts like the big three of 'Running Back', 'Burn Out' and 'Tearing It Down', where Tank's vocals bridged the verses and hooks in all his harmonies alongside superstar Tyrese and the legend Ginuwine, who put themselves in the Boyz II Men, Blackstreet, Jagged Edge and 112 ranks of classic guy groups. The huge single and best track 'I Need' says it all as Tank truly opens it up, singing "I hope you see my heart from here/And I hope that this will make us strong/I hope the truth has made it clear/And I hope that we can learn and move on/This time the stakes are way too high/I see what I’m about to lose/It’s time I let the old me die/Mistakes or love I gotta choose". Rarely in this urban game have we seen honesty, heart, vulnerability and dedication laid out bare on single track like this, like Ginuwine's 'Last Chance' or Tyrese's 'Stay'. This from a guy built like he could throw you out of a club too. The 'Stronger' 'Star' is proving he's man enough to up the game and throw it out the club instead. It's about soul now, not just sex. Tank's running down the weak and healing the industrys true sound...Marvin would have to give it up and be proud. These aren't the 'Blurred Lines' of a monster hit that could lead to more troubled times for a former soul star on the sell-out. This is the clear skys of a man who refuses to change who he is for the chart. Now that's how you truly change the game.
Tank's done exactly that. From his divine debut rolling through the 'Force Of Nature' to his 'Diary Of A Mad Man' mixtape of a journal of could of been chart hits like 'I'm On One', 'Stars Girl' and practically the whole highlight reel. Look for his new one 'High Piano Dreams' this year too for an ivory tough throwback talent that is far from throwaway as the 'One Man' sophmore success over slump showed. This guy even motored up, under the hood for the 'Fast & Furious' before Tyrese's '2 Fast' Roman Pearce, remixing and retooling cameo star Ja Rule's 'Race Against Time'. This guy hit the nitrogen injection on his own career with the Grammy nominated 'Sex, Love & Pain' album and it's Grammy nominated single 'Please Don't Go' which lead to a remix featuring Tyrese and Ginuwine and well the rest that is now R&B history. The legacy of this album also featured the dum, dum, dum, inspired, down the aisle march of 'Wedding Song', along with the original Timbaland 'I Like Them Girls' collabo to go along with 'Coldest' tracks like 'I Hate You', 'Coming Home', 'Heartbreaker' (and it's "Babygirl, tell me how again I'm supposed to trust you now/After everything you admitted to me/And I'm sitting here tryna find a way to forget somehow/Cause I'm feeling like you cut me too deep/Girl I blame myself cause I told you ; lay it on the line/Never thought that you would lay it that way/Never thought you had so much to say/Never thought that I'd see the day/Where we almost cross the line between love and hate" lyrics), 'I Love You' and more classic confliction with conviction in a sonic studio sound. A more mature sound that ushers in the grown, Carl Thomas, Musiq Soulchild and Avant type of real soul singers.
The highly anticpated sequel album didn't happen, but Tank moved and rolled on by calling the follow up 'Now & Never' bringing Drake ('Celebration'), 'Sex Music' and the 'Emergency' of new classics to the true 'All Night Experience' that screamed with classics like 'You Mean That Much' and his 'I Can't Make You Love Me' cover that even bests the artist Prince's version. The experience won't be stopping 'till the Maxwell cops come knocking because not even more than a year after 'Now & Never', Tank returned with arguably his best album ever in 'This Is How I Feel'. From the Prince guitar like sounds of 'Lost It All'(laying it all down on the chorus, "I don't care if they take the house and all the rides/If they throw me in jail and the judge sentences me to life/'Cause I already lost it all, lost it all/'Cause I already lost it all, lost it all/When I lost you" for a man no longer a player like Joe) to the desperate dedicated devotion of 'Next Breath', it was Tank that proved he was 'Your One'. He sang about finding a man better than him but after proving he was one of the kings and firing shots a year later, who is? Now Tank's new sex, love and no more pain of a 'Stronger' soul sound looks to best it all as this military hard-working man arms up once again for the hit-season. From knocking out the national anthem at Mayweather fights to pulling no punches the former football star at college has graduated to veteran status. Now the 'Dreamgirls' composing contributor is about to score his own dreams come true. This Tank just keeps on rolling.
Friday, 7 March 2014
Good morning everyone! Rise and shine...are you awake? It's one of those days isn't it? One of those days where the Summer's trying to creep through the covers yet you feel under the weather. The icing of Winter is gone and Spring is coming through in leaps of wind and bounds of rain. It's just not quite Summer yet. It still feels like the fall so you need something else to rise and take you through and make it to the weekend while your working week is almost done. More than a shot of coffee or a daily dose of nauseous news how about some beautiful music to truly help you rise and invigorate your day? How about something from one of this generations prominent singer/songwriters with a legendary legacy not called Springsteen or Dylan? That's right the man to rival Ryan Adams, Beck is back and the art collage, college boys favourite turned graduated music scholar has more than a 'Devil's Haircut' in his mind and below his fedora. No longer a 'Loser', the man of made timeless albums of today like 'Odelay', 'Mutation', 'Modern Guilt' and classic catalogues more returns with an album in the same key as his haunting heartbreak, fan favourite 'Sea Change'. With another change at C, the songs in the key of this mans love life is truly broodingly beautiful. Loneliness has never sounded so gorgeous. The lo-fi, sonically experimental genius brings his multiple psychedelic styles (that have mashed up everything from country to hip-hop...sounds like my kind of guy) and instruments to the ordinary folk pleasing 'Morning Phase', which is set to play through day and nights to those clear and crisp Summer evenings.
Following his 1960's outstanding ode of 'Modern Guilt' and the sublime single of the same name, comes his next acoustic arrangement of art. Sure the forecast may be a downcast downpour of blue, but weathering the storm the kid from Los Angeles keeps it Californian cool, recorded at the city of angels legendary Capitol Records tower that has housed some of the greatest album artworks of all-time. It all sounds so beautifully cinematic too from the 'Cycle' introducing openings that feel like they could lead in to either Beck's breakthrough album, break-up classic 'Nobody's Fault But My Own' or a Wes Anderson picture. 'Moonrise Kingdom' anybody? The great 'Morning' opening may as well be a mourning as the emotive harmonies are song crafting at it's chiseled, monumental best. "Woke up this morning, found a love light in the storm/Looked up this morning, saw the roses full of thorns/Guns are falling, they don't have nowhere to go/Oceans of diamonds always shine, smooth out below" after this first verse of a spirit of sadness you could be happily married with eight children and be unable to keep a dry eye with this one. The beat of 'Heart Is A Drum' keep it going in a more upbeat, get up and go way, but believe me it's the motivation of a torture soul wanting to break free. As the farewell to open arms 'Say Goodbye' questions a love about to be lost, "See the sleet that rests upon/The quiet street we're standing on/Is it time to go away/And try again some other day?" The man who recentely received rave reviews for his cover of John Lennon's 'Love', brings his own Beatle worthy songbook back to the open pages with more stunning sheet music. The hurt impact, but inspired path of life after relationship death comes all the way round on 'Morning' to the 'Blue Moon' single.
Morning's haven't sounded this good since Incubus' 'View'. "I haven't felt the way I feel today/in so long it's hard for me to specify", it's nice to know it.'Unforgiven' may be the unforgettable, untouchable album classic though at the mid-point of this L.P. From the incredible instrumentation to the vocals of a man still amazingly, criminally Bon Iver underrated in this modern age of singer/songwriter searching. 'Modern Guilt' indeed. "Down on the street/Just let the engine run/'Til there's nothing left/Except the damage done", Beck sings on a short but sinisterly sweet cut of heartache that harks to the harmonies of the repeating "Somewhere unforgiven/Time will wait for you". This lonely, long-road drive through despair to determination comes through on the tide change of 'Wave' that feels like an opening 'Cycle' cinematic reprise. Heavy but with heart, following this 'Don't Let It Go' strums to a more simple sound hole beat as Beck sings warnings of amazing advice for jilted lovers and broken hearts like "These are some faults we found/Hollowed out from the years/Don't let them wear you out/Don't let them turn your mind inside out". As he says at the beginning "You better save yourself/From something you can't see", truer words have rarely been spoken. We hope todays fans know how to really listen or read the linear, lyrical, inlay notes of an album because these are the beautiful ballads of their time that can do more than just help them lick their wounds or nurse their muse feelings of a relationship gone west. With this 'Sea Change' to the east-like the man himself moving from L.A. to New York City-this coffee house classic phase of morning is the perfect way to wake up in more ways than one. Especially the right way. A double espresso has got nothing on this two-sided record.
America are glad they've got the right Beck back and don't have to say goodbye, as songs like the 'Blackbird Chain' prove that even when he's deep into a cohesive, small but flowing set of songs, he still sounds refreshed and light. The 'Phase' dual title track, interlude of this influential album keeps this discography sounding like a filmography before the soundtrack of sentiment takes a new change on 'Turn Away'. Through muffled vocals of closed-off feelings Beck broods "Turn turn away/From the weight of your own past/It's magic for the devil/And betray the lack of change". These are the words of a man whose been through a lot as he takes his male Norah Jones, classic break-up works to another amazing album. Far from critically boring or depressing this is brilliant and dominating as the 'Country Down' story and the truly wonderful, day encompassing 'Waking Light' finishes and starts your 24 hour cycle perfectly. As Beck harmonises with you "Brace yourself to the morning low/Night is gone, long way turning/You've waited long enough to know" this is the perfect album closer and A.M opener for "When the morning comes to meet you". Meet it you shall for as they say 'for every dark night, there's a bright day after' and with the 'Sea Change' sequel companion-amazingly, now more than a decade later-this musical accompaniment will help todays trend through troubling times. It's this generations, classic, essential album that should not pass through the shadows of the curtain. So it's time to draw and peak through the venetian blinds to the light of day and truly get up out of those Winter blues. This is gratifying genius that shows you in more ways than one that love is still alive. As the colourful, kaleidoscope of the album artwork shows you it's all bright. Whatever your going through this album can help you see it to the other side. Besides it's all just a 'Phase' and with 'Morning' it's a new day. Have a good one. TIM DAVID HARVEY.