In the End, You Know We Both Were Wrong

I’m careful when I say, “I like this song because it reminds me of old soul music.” I think concentrating too much on sounding throwback can be reductive. Music should progress. Soul itself progressed in so many interesting directions years ago. That being said, I love the romance and the whimsy and the full sound of Motown productions in particular, and I loved the way listening to it made me feel when I was small. It could be romantic and it could be very sexy but it was always warm. Contemporary R&B has more or less supplanted mainstream soul/soul as pop, and there are plenty of artists who are fun and/or inspired about it, that’s not my point. I can’t help but notice that when contemporary R&B it supposes it is being sexy (love in this club, etc.) it is seldom often warm about it. What I miss is the warmth, and I say this as a big fan of the colder, synthesized sounds of new-wave influenced 80s pop music, especially the stuff out of Britain. It’s hard for me to describe because it’s centered around so much of an elusive feeling, but I love contemporary R&B artists that move to distill the same warmth, even going so far as to reference it in obvious sonic ways, of old Motown soul music while also maintaining a fresh, contemporary balance to their sound. Cee-lo has it mastered. John Legend sounds very contemporary yet timeless- my mother always says he (and the acoustic warmth of his piano) reminds her of Stevie Wonder. Not everyone can be as talented as Cee-lo or John Legend, I guess. There’s also Raphael Saadiq, and Erykah Badu. I have actually been listening a lot to Badu’s most recent album, 2010’s New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). So glad I can at least get into it now. I need the warmth now that the weather has turned to full-blast winter. A favorite track from it:

Erykah Badu – Window Seat

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