Tuesday, December 7, 2021

COLUMN: Why 'An Evening With Silk Sonic' is album of the year

November 18, 2021
Photo by Emily Maze | The State News
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As the end of the year approaches us, an age-old question arises from music enthusiasts all over the world, what is the album of the year? 

“An Evening With Silk Sonic” by Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, known together as Silk Sonic, undoubtedly deserves the 2021 title.

The album rollout started in February, following the announcement of their collaborative album. Soon after, the dynamic duo released “Leave the Door Open,” an immensely successful lead single that topped the charts at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Immediately after hearing this song and watching the music video, I had a feeling that the project would have that 1960's and 70's taste that old and new music fanatics would be infatuated with.

The next two singles, “Skate” and “Smokin Out the Window” both initially landed in the top 15 of the previously mentioned chart, respectively.

My previous thoughts after “Leave the Door Open" was released were reassured when these two hits flooded my Spotify recommended songs. "Skate" has that upbeat, dance hall vibe that everyone can boogie to and "Smokin Out the Window” will make you feel like you just got cheated on and need a cigarette, even if you are single and don't smoke.

When these three singles dropped, I was very excited to hear how the rest of the songs would sound. I have been a Bruno Mars fan since the "Unorthodox Jukebox" era and I was a huge fan of his sound on his "24K Magic" record and I knew that “An Evening With Silk Sonic” would be similar.

However, I knew that “An Evening With Silk Sonic” would be more intriguing since he collaborated on the project with one of my new favorites in the hip hop hybrid genre, Anderson .Paak.

I started listening to .Paak about two years ago when he released "Ventura." After falling in love with that album, hearing that he and Mars would be collaborating and listening to the singles, I knew that something special was on the horizon.

After much anticipation following the three singles, they finally released the nine-song classic last week, and it did not disappoint. 

The album exhibits a plethora of vibes, from the smooth and sensual sounding “After Last Night,” featuring the modernly popular bass guitarist Thundercat and legendary multi-genre musician Bootsy Collins, who is also the narrator of the LP, to the funky upbeat “Fly as Me,” that makes you feel like a million dollars. 

My personal favorite is “Put On A Smile,” a slow-paced, sad love song that is much different from most of the other songs on the album. The song is all about the need of having their significant others despite being “playas".  It is also the only song written solely by Mars and .Paak on the album and it features .Paak’s signature drumming style. 

My only complaint with it is that it is only 30 minutes long, which is entirely too short. The album rollout started very early in the year, and after a lot of waiting, only nine songs and 30 minutes to show for it is very disappointing.

Although the twosome of Mars and .Paak is relatively new, they are no strangers to making outstanding music on their own. They both have received countless awards for their work, and they even combine for a ridiculous 30 Grammys, the most distinguished award in the music industry. Those honors speak to how well respected they are throughout the music business. 

Growing up in Detroit, I listened to an unhealthy amount of Motown, and “An Evening With Silk Sonic” brought me back to the days my family and I would listen to Stevie Wonder with its beautiful funk and R&B sound. While speaking to the Rolling Stone, .Paak even stated that they were influenced by Motown legends like Wonder and the late Aretha Franklin. 

Feel free to call me an old head, I just enjoy good music. 

Detroit also exposed me to an array of diverse musical tastes. I have enjoyed everything from "Bloxk Party" by Detroit rapper Sada Baby to "Rolling in the Deep" by the superstar English singer Adele.

There is not much music I have not listened to, and after hearing “An Evening With Silk Sonic," I could not think of a better album to have come out of 2021 so far.

Even though it has only been a few days since the album has been released, I firmly believe that "An Evening With Silk Sonic” will be the best piece of musical work to come out this year.

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That is no knock to the music that has been released this year though, as I think countless albums that deserve immense praise have come out like “Call Me If You Get Lost,” by Tyler, the Creator, “Montero,” by Lil Nas X and “Red (Taylor’s Version),” by Taylor Swift just to name a few. 

The perfect mix of modernness and nostalgia along with the impeccable use of instruments and vocals lead me to believe that no album will top this one this year. Mars's voice combined with .Paak's talent on the drum set mix for a delightful sound that every fan of music, no matter the genre, can enjoy and play on repeat.

It is also a good look when the best dancer on TikTok endorses one of your singles.

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